Olympics: CAS upholds ban on Russian athletics team

The sporting world's highest tribunal has rejected Russia's appeal against a doping ban for its entire athletics team from the Rio Olympics starting in 15 days' time.
Athletes like pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva will miss out on the Rio Games after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed Russia's appeal to lift an IAAF-imposed ban.
Athletes like pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva will miss out on the Rio Games after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed Russia's appeal to lift an IAAF-imposed ban.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Decision on athletics team may pave way for the country's blanket suspension

LAUSANNE • Russia's attempt to overturn a ban on its track and field team competing at the Rio Olympics due to state-organised doping has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The decision opens the way for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider imposing a ban on the entire Russian Olympic team when its executive board meets on Sunday.

The ban on the track and field athletes had been imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Athletics' world governing body's president Sebastian Coe said the CAS judgement against a combined appeal from the Russian Olympic Committee and 67 athletes helped create a level playing field for sport.

"While we are thankful that 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," Coe said.

"I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. It is our federation's instinctive desire to include, not exclude.


This is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing.

'' SEBASTIAN COE, IAAF president, reflecting on the ban on Russia's athletes at next month's Rio Olympics.


Thank you all for this funeral for athletics. This is a blatant political order.

'' YELENA ISINBAYEVA, Russian pole vaulter, reacting to the CAS' decision ruling her out of her fifth Olympics.

"Beyond Rio, the IAAF task force will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean, safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition."

The CAS said its panel unanimously "confirmed the validity" of the IAAF's decision to ban Russia from Rio and other international competitions.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) "is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games", the ruling said.

The IOC has said the CAS ruling will help shape its decision whether to ban Russia entirely from Rio over an investigation which accused Russia of rampant state-backed doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and other major events.

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, is known to be against a blanket ban, but he is facing growing calls to make sure that Russians in other sports are either excluded or made to undergo an individual examination by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) before being allowed to compete.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was one of those named in a report by Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor, as having been involved in the state-organised doping system which covered up at least 312 positive tests. He said the decision to ban athletes from competing in Rio was "political".

He told the Tass news agency that Russia will consider further legal action and lashed out at the verdict as unfair.

"In my view, it's a subjective decision, somewhat political and one with no legal basis," he said.

A spokesman for Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, expressed regret over the ruling, adding that applying "collective responsibility (to all athletes) can hardly be acceptable".


The grande dame of Russian athletics, star pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, 34, who had set her sights on ending her stellar career with a third Olympic gold at her fifth and final Games in Rio, said: "Thank you all for this funeral for athletics. "This is a blatant political order."

The Russian Olympic Committee said it would fight until the end for the rights of all "clean" Russian sports people.

Some senior figures in sport believe the IOC should consider banning the Russia team outright based on its Olympic charter.

Whatever happens, Russian track and field athletes are unlikely to be the only ones banned from Rio.

The International Weightlifting Federation is on the verge of confirming that Russia's weightlifters will be banned from Rio, along with those from Belarus, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'CAS upholds Russia ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe