Cas upholds Rio Olympics ban on 68 Russian athletes

• IAAF suspended country after investigation revealed systematic doping
• IOC was waiting on ruling as it decides whether to ban entire country

The court of arbitration for sport upheld the ban on Russia’s track and field team from competing at the Rio Olympic Games and in doing so dramatically increased the pressure on the International Olympic Committee to extend such a ban to other Russian sports.

The IOC president, Thomas Bach, who is a close friend of Vladimir Putin, is known to be firmly against a blanket ban but is facing growing calls to make sure Russian competitors in other sports are either excluded or made to undergo an individual examination by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The IOC’s executive board will decide whether to ban the 387-strong Russian Olympic team at an emergency conference on Sunday.

The Cas said it had unanimously voted to uphold the decision of the IAAF, athletics’ governing body, which decided in November to ban Russia following long and sustained revelations about state-sponsored doping.

The IAAF had argued no athlete who had trained inside the Russian system could be trusted to be clean because positive samples were routinely switched or destroyed, athletes were forewarned of tests, and there was a deep-rooted culture of performance-enhancing drugs. The Cas decision to accept the IAAF’s position means 68 Russian athletes who had appealed, with the backing of the Russian Olympic Committee, have nowhere left to turn.

Banned Russian athletes

As things stand, the long jumper Darya Klishina, who trains in Miami and was cleared to compete by the IAAF’s Doping Review Board, will be the only Russian track and field star in Rio. The whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova, who was also approved to run by the IAAF, still has to wait for IOC approval to compete.

The news was welcomed by the IAAF, which said the verdict had “created a level playing field for athletes and upheld the rights of the IAAF to use its rules for the protection of the sport and support the credibility and integrity of competition”. The IAAF president, Sebastian Coe, struck a conciliatory tone, saying: “While we are thankful our rules and our power to uphold our rules and the anti-doping code have been supported, this is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. It is our federation’s instinctive desire to include, not exclude.

“Beyond Rio the IAAF taskforce will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition.”

The Kremlin quickly expressed its disapproval of the decision, which was thought by most sports lawyers to be in the balance. Its spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I certainly regret such a decision by the court which refers to absolutely all of our athletes [who filed the claims]. The principle of collective responsibility is hardly acceptable.” Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, added: “I regret this decision. Unfortunately, a certain precedent has been established for collective responsibility.”

The political wrangling will continue over what to do with other Russian sports. Some senior figures believe the Russia team could be banned outright based on the IOC’s Olympic charter. Article 4.5 warns national Olympic committees that, while they can work with governments, “they shall not associate themselves with any activity which would be in contradiction with the Olympic charter”. Article 4.6 states they “must preserve their autonomy and resist pressures of any kind which may prevent them from complying with the Olympic charter”.

Those figures point out that on Monday the law professor Richard McLaren revealed that Yuri Nagornykh, the former Russian deputy minister of sport, who was also a member of the ROC, had the job of deciding whether every positive drugs test from the Moscow Laboratory from 2011 would be covered up or not. The attempt to distort sport went right to the heart of government and the ROC.

Many in the IOC would prefer to allow individual federations the opportunity to ban Russian competitors from their sport. Whatever happens, Russian track and field athletes are unlikely to be the only ones banned. The International Weightlifting Federation is on the verge of confirming Russia’s team will be banned from Rio, along with Belarus, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan, and there are also questions about Russia’s swimmers and rowers.

Bach is likely to continue to face pressure from anti-doping groups and athletes to take a strong position on Russia. The president has received an urgent letter from more than a dozen national anti-doping organisations urging the IOC to immediately suspend the ROC and ban all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics – allowing them to compete under a neutral flag only if a taskforce, approved by the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency, verified they were clean.

This, they argued, would strike a fair balance between the IOC’s stated concerns between collective responsibility and individual justice “so that no truly clean elite Russian athlete is barred from the Olympic Games”.

IAAF statement in response to CAS award: https://t.co/IDPKefnBOg

— IAAF (@iaaforg) July 21, 2016

Contributor

Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Russian doping ban may spark challenges from angry athletes | Sean Ingle
After the IAAF ban on Russian athletes there will be legal moves and manoeuvres aplenty in the run-up to the Rio Olympics but more serious allegations could also be in the pipeline

Sean Ingle in Vienna

17, Jun, 2016 @10:23 PM

Article image
Greg Rutherford calls IOC decision over Russia team for Rio ‘spineless’
Greg Rutherford has led the condemnation of the IOC’s decision not to issue a blanket ban on the Russian team for Rio, calling it ‘a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides’

Exclusive by Sean Ingle

24, Jul, 2016 @6:51 PM

Article image
Russian athletes must prove themselves to be clean to compete in Rio
Russian and Kenyan athletes in every sport will have to prove individually that they are clean if they are to compete in the Rio Olympics, says the IOC

Sean Ingle

21, Jun, 2016 @6:34 PM

Article image
Russia’s Rio pleas go unheeded as PR offensive over doping ban fails
As the reality of Russia’s athletes being barred from the Olympics hit home, defiance gave way to apologies and pleading for clean athletes not to suffer but the change has not worked

Shaun Walker in Moscow

17, Jun, 2016 @4:59 PM

Article image
Pragmatism saves Russia from greater punishment after doping scandal
Despite the damning report proof of moves to clean up the system would bring Russia back in time for the Rio Olympics

Owen Gibson

13, Nov, 2015 @10:36 PM

Article image
Russian athletics: IAAF upholds ban before Rio Olympics
The world athletics governing body has upheld a ban on Russian athletes imposed in the wake of a state-sponsored doping scandal

Owen Gibson in Vienna

17, Jun, 2016 @8:30 PM

Article image
IOC must decide which way to jump over Russia at the Olympics | Owen Gibson
A vast database of damning evidence should help root out more offenders but a new global anti-doping system is needed after the Rio Olympic Games

Owen Gibson

21, Jul, 2016 @1:48 PM

Article image
Russia’s athletes to file class action with Cas over Olympic exclusion
Russia’s track and field athletes are to file a class action with the court of arbitration for sport against their exclusion from the Olympics

Guardian sport

23, Jun, 2016 @10:29 AM

Article image
Russian officials continue to lash out at Wada’s report into doping
Sports ministry publishes conciliatory statement in English but Vitaly Mutko dismisses findings as ‘assumptions based on unconfirmed facts’

Alec Luhn

10, Nov, 2015 @2:59 PM

Article image
Vladimir Putin says banned Russian athletes are victims of ‘discrimination’
The Russian president said Russian track and field athletes are victims of ‘discrimination’

Alec Luhn in Moscow

27, Jul, 2016 @12:47 PM