Athletics: IOC supports IAAF's 'strong stance against doping'

LAUSANNE (AFP) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Saturday that it welcomed the IAAF's "strong stance against doping" following the athletics ruling body's extension of Russia's ban.

The IOC was commenting for the first time on Friday's IAAF decision to uphold Russia's suspension, which rules the doping-tainted country's athletes out of the Rio Olympics.

A statement issued from the IOC's Lausanne headquarters read: "The International Olympic Committee welcomes and supports the IAAF's strong stance against doping.

"This is in line with the IOC's long-held zero-tolerance policy.

"The IOC has taken note of the decision of the IAAF Council and of the report and recommendations of the IAAF task force."

The IOC endorsed IAAF president Sebastian Coe's assertion that it was the athletics federation rather than the Olympic body that had jurisdiction over eligibility.

"The eligibility of athletes in any international competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective International Federation," the statement noted.

The IOC has stepped up its battle against drug cheats for the upcoming Games in Brazil.

Confronted with a fresh series of doping scandals, many centred on Russia, the IOC reinforced its testing programmes in an 11th-hour bid to keep drug cheats away from Rio.

At the heart of those actions is the re-analysis of samples from the Beijing Games in 2008 and London 2012, which has already produced 53 new doping cases.

The IOC has doubled its budget for anti-doping tests to US$500,000 (S$675,000) up to the Games.

Saturday's statement promised: "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 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."

On Friday the IAAF Council played hardball with Russia, extending a ban first imposed in November over state-sponsored doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.

But the door was left slightly ajar for Russian athletes training outside the country to apply to compete as neutrals at the August 5-21 Olympics in Brazil.