IAAF will not lift ban on Russia athletes for Rio Olympics
By Ben Reynolds
Last Updated: 17/06/16 10:21pm
Russia's track and field athletes will not be allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics after the IAAF refused to lift the ban imposed for state-sponsored doping and corruption.
However, Russian athletes who can prove they have not been tainted by the Russian system and have trained abroad can appeal to compete in Rio, albeit as a neutral and not under the flag of their country.
Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has already said she intends to challenge the IAAF's decision, telling Russian news agency TASS: "This is a violation of human rights. I won't keep silent. I'll turn to a human rights court.
"I'll prove to the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that they have made a wrong decision. I'll do this demonstratively so that it is understood that Russia won't stay silent."
The unanimous vote in Vienna follows warnings by IAAF president Lord Coe in March, when the initial ban on the Russian Athletics Federation was extended, that it would only be lifted if there was clear evidence of a "verifiable change both in anti-doping practice and culture".
Russia Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko wrote a last-ditch plea to Coe in which he claimed Russia was "doing everything possible to ensure our athletes are a part of clean and fair Olympic Games", but Wednesday's damning report from WADA revealed hundreds of attempts to carry out drug tests on Russian athletes this year had been thwarted, with drug testers facing intimidation and threats from armed Russian security forces.
A statement from the Russian Ministry of Sport read: "We are extremely disappointed by the IAAF's decision to uphold the ban on all our track and field athletes, creating the unprecedented situation of a whole nation's track and field athletes being banned from the Olympics.
"We have done everything possible since the ban was first imposed to regain the trust of the international community. We have rebuilt our anti-doping institutions which are being led by respected international experts.
"Our athletes are being tested by the UK's anti-doping agency (UKAD) and every one of them is undergoing a minimum of three tests in addition to the usual requirements. We have nothing to hide and feel we had met the IAAF's conditions for re-entry.
"We now appeal to the members of the International Olympic Committee to not only consider the impact that our athletes exclusion will have on their dreams and the people of Russia, but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by their absence. The Games are supposed to be a source of unity, and we hope that they remain as a way of bringing people together."
Coe told a press conference on Friday afternoon: "Although good progress has been made, the IAAF Council was unanimous that RusAF (Russian Athletics Federation) had not met the reinstatement conditions and that Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public."
IAAF Taskforce chairman Rune Anderson said Russia had not made nearly enough progress in changing the culture towards doping within the country, with coaches and athletes resistant to change.
"RusAF must show that there is now a culture of zero-tolerance towards doping in Russian athletics and... provide assurance and protection to clean athletes both inside and outside of Russia.
"The deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, for doping that got RusAF suspended in the first place appears not to have changed materially to date.
"The head coach of the Russian athletic team and many of the athletes on that team appear unwilling to acknowledge the nature and extent of the doping problem in Russian athletics and certain coaches and athletes appear willing to ignore the doping rules.
"Efforts to test athletes in Russia have continued to encounter serious obstacles. RusAF appears unable to enforce all doping bans.
"If there are individual athletes who can clearly and convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country or subject to other strong anti doping systems, including effective drug testing, then this should be a process through which they can apply for permission to compete in international competition. Not for Russia, but as a neutral athlete."