No Rio Games tickets: IOC backs IAAF decision to uphold Russian athlete bans
The International Olympic Committee ends any slim hopes that Russia’s sports men and women might have had of competing at the first Olympics in South America
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ended any slim hopes on Saturday that Russian athletes might have had of competing at the Rio Games in August by backing the IAAF’s decision to extend its ban on the country for systematic doping.
The IOC said it “fully respects” Friday’s ruling made by world athletics’ governing body (IAAF) to maintain its ban.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko admitted on Saturday that the country’s athletes’ Olympic hopes were over following the IAAF decision, which was supported by the IOC.
“Given the International Olympic Committee’s statements, our sportspeople have no chance” of going to the Games, Mutko told R-Sport agency, before insisting he would fight on for Russia’s athletes.
“We’ll keep going in every way. Our position is clear: the responsibility should be individual, not collective.”
The IOC added “the eligibility of athletes in any international competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective international federation”.
That was exactly what IAAF president Sebastian Coe said on Friday after the IAAF council voted unanimously to retain the ban on Russia competing in any athletics events.
However, by accepting the IAAF decision and the federation’s jurisdiction over the athletes, the IOC indicated it will not interfere. That suggests Russia’s only recourse for fighting the decision will be at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Russia’s track federation did not directly address the question of a possible appeal to CAS, but said on Saturday that it “will use all the legal opportunities it has” to ensure Russian athletes compete in Rio.
“We will insist on the rights of clean athletes and will definitely return to the international arena,” it said.
Rune Andersen, who heads the IAAF task force overseeing Russia’s reform attempts, said on Friday that a “deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, appears not to be materially changed”.
“No athlete will compete in Rio under a Russian flag,” he said.
He and Coe will be relieved the IOC came to the same conclusion after a teleconference of its executive committee yesterday.
IOC president Thomas Bach had earlier this month given Russia hope that his organisation might overrule the IAAF at its own meeting this week over concerns that innocent athletes would be punished, saying he “refused to speculate” whether the IAAF vote would be the end of the issue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to retain hope when he said on Friday: “We’ll talk to our colleagues at the anti-doping body, and I hope there’ll be an appropriate response from the IOC.”
The only Russian athletes who might compete in track and field in Rio are a handful – thought to be fewer than five – who are based outside the country and can apply to the IAAF for special dispensation to compete as independents.
It is the first time the country, which finished second behind the United States in the track and field medal table in the 2012 Games, will be absent since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which they, along with several other Eastern Bloc countries, boycotted.
An IOC Olympic summit in Lausanne is scheduled to discuss the issue.
“The IOC will initiate further far-reaching measures to ensure a level playing field for all the athletes taking part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” it said.
“The upcoming Olympic summit on Tuesday will address the situation of the countries in which the National Anti-Doping Organisation has been declared non-compliant by Wada for reasons of the non-efficient functioning of the national anti-doping system.”
The summit will also discuss reports that Russia put in a place a complex system to beat anti-doping measures at the Winter Olympics that it hosted in Sochi two years ago.
“The IOC will initiate further far-reaching measures in order to ensure a level playing field for all the athletes taking part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the organisation said on Saturday.
In addition to Russia, Kenya is listed as non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency code and has been hit by numerous drug scandals in recent years.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press