IAAF bans Russian team at Rio but offers exception for clean athletes

Russia's track and field team cannot compete in the summer Olympic Games because the country has not given up its doping culture, but exceptions will be considered for clean athletes, world athletics body IAAF ruled Friday.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said after a governing council meeting in Vienna: “Although good progress has been made, the IAAF Council was unanimous that (Russian athletics association) RusAF 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's council had met to consider whether Russia had set up a functioning anti-doping structure in response to a report by world anti-doping agency WADA that detailed systematic cheating in Russian athletics.

Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF's Russia task force, said: "The deep-seated culture of tolerance or worse for doping that got RusAF suspended in the first place seems not to have changed materially."

There were still no strong anti-doping infrastructure in Russia, and doping tests were still being hampered, Anderson added.

The decision not to reinstate the Russian association means that Russian athletes remain ineligible to compete in international competitions including the European Championships and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in August.

A special IAAF body will consider those who get tested outside Russia and who can prove that they are not tainted by the Russian doping system to apply for permission to compete as neutral athletes.

"There won't be many athletes that would manage to get through the crack in that door," Andersen cautioned.

In addition, any individual athlete who has made an extraordinary contribution to the fight against doping should be able to apply for permission to compete.

"In particular, Yuliya Stepanova's case should be considered favourably," an IAAF statement said.

It was middle-distance runner Stepanova's allegations of systematic doping in Russian sports made in a documentary by German network ARD broadcast in December 2014 which led to the suspension of Russian athletics.

"The first step that needs be taken by Russia is to acknowledge that there is a problem at all levels of government and sports, and then we can move forward," Andersen said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied any government involvement in a statement earlier on Friday.

"This is for certain and I am stressing it - there had never been and will never be in Russia any government’s support for sports violations, particularly the sphere of anti-doping," he said in St Petersburg, according to the Tass newswire.

Russia would come up "with a response" to this expected IAAF decision, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was quoted as saying by Tass.

Russia's two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva said she would take legal action over an alleged breach of human rights if she was not permitted to take part in the Olympics.

"I'll do this demonstratively so that it is understood that Russia won’t stay silent," she said.

Any athlete has the right to appeal IAAF's decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

IAAF had decided to consider exemptions rather than issue a complete ban because this would make it easier to argue in court that the ruling was not excessive, Andersen explained.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board will meanwhile Saturday discuss what steps to take after world athletics body IAAF upheld the suspension of Russia's track and field team.

"The IOC has taken note of the decision of the IAAF Council," a statement said.

"The IOC Executive Board will discuss the appropriate next steps in a telephone conference tomorrow.”

Last update: Fri, 17/06/2016 - 20:22

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