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IAAF votes to suspend Russia from international athletics

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Lord Coe confirms that the IAAF has voted to suspend Russia

The IAAF has voted to suspend Russia from international athletics with less than a year to go until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The IAAF council, led by president Lord Coe, met on Friday evening to discuss the damning allegations of systematic, state-sponsored doping contained in a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency commission.

A statement from the sport's governing body confirmed 24 members of council took part in the meeting, with 22 voting in favour of the sanction and one voting against. Russia were not eligible to participate in the vote.

The provisional suspension means Russian athletes cannot compete in international competition including the Olympic Games and World Athletic Series competitions.

Russia will also not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup in Cheboksary and the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan, although athletes can participate in domestic competition. 

This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated.
Lord Coe, IAAF President

The federation will have to fulfil a list of criteria set by an inspection team in order to regain membership to the IAAF. That team will be led by Rune Andersen, an independent international anti-doping expert and three members of the IAAF Council who will be appointed in the next few days.

Speaking outside after the meeting, Lord Coe told Sky Sports News HQ: "We will get the change that we want and only then will Russian athletes be able to return to international competition.

"It is entirely up to the Russian federation to enact those changes. Our verification team will be tough and we will want to make sure before there is a re-introduction to the sport for their athletes and for the federation, that those changes have taken place and not before. It is for the IAAF and no other organisation to make that judgement. 

"This is not about politics, this is about the protection of clean athletes, but the message the council has sent tonight could not be stronger."

Lord Sebastian Coe
Image: IAAF chairman Lord Coe confirmed the decision on Friday night

In the statement released earlier, Coe said: "Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time.

"But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world. 

"This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated.

"To this end, the IAAF, WADA, the member federations and athletes need to look closely at ourselves, our cultures and our processes to identify where failures exist and be tough in our determination to fix them and rebuild trust in our sport. There can be no more important focus for our sport."

IAAF logo
Image: The IAAF Athletes' Commission say they are 'angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics'

A statement from the IAAF Athletes Commission read: "The IAAF Athletes' Commission is extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the recent developments and allegations directed at our sport.

"We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics and are united alongside our President to not shy away from the major challenges that face our sport. The athletes will work together to continue the process of cleaning up athletics to ensure those athletes training and competing cleanly are not tainted by the minority.  

"We send a clear message to clean athletes in a dirty system to report any doping or cheating that they see or hear about.  We are 100% in support of President Coe and believe that he is the leader that our sport needs to instigate the necessary actions swiftly and strongly."

Yelena Isinbayeva attends the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Image: Yelena Isinbayeva wrote a letter pleading with the IAAF not to ban Russian athletes

Pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva had urged the IAAF not to ban Russia from its competitions, saying in an open letter it would be "unfair" to suspend those Russian athletes not connected to the doping scandal.

She wrote: "Dear friends, all of you have known me very well and for a long time. During all my sports career I did my job honestly: I trained a lot and won World Championships and Olympic Games and set world records.

"All my victories are honest, "clean" and deserved. I have always followed and am following all the anti-doping rules precisely. The situation the Russian National team is in now is very sad but I ask you not to treat all the athletes in the same negative way.

"To ban innocent and not connected to that doping scandal athletes from competing in international events and Olympic Games in Rio is not fair."

Russia sports minister Vitaly Mutko told journalists in Moscow earlier on Friday: "Despite the fact we've created a serious anti-doping system, that we've created it according to the template of international organisations, [Vladimir Putin] has tasked us with doing everything and taking all necessary measures in cooperation with international organisations to create a system that will be trusted by the world."

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