KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Russia and its athletes reacted angrily today after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the IAAF ban which effects bars them from the Rio Olympic Games next month.
In May the world athletics federation firmed up a provisional suspension imposed on Russian athletics after the initial revelations in the escalating doping scandal. Some 68 Russian athletes, let by Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, appealed to CAS that it was unfair to make ‘clean’ individuals pay for the sins of the system.
The appeal was heard on Tuesday with both parties having agreed to an expedited process which meant CAS issued its decision today. In theory the Russians have the right of appeal to the Swiss Federal Cout but this could not be undertaken before the Games begin next month.
Russia’s situation had been exacerbated by the publication earlier this week of a report to the World Anti-Doping Agency by law professor Richard McLaren with further revelations about the length, depth and breadth of the state-sponsored stragety of doping and cover-ups.
A bitter Isinbayeva said: “Thankyou everyone for the funeral of athletics. It’s a pure political decision.”
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko also described the verdict as “political and with no legal basis.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that “applying collective responsibility [to all athletes] can hardly be acceptable.”
The three-person CAS panel supported the IAAF decision, saying a country whose national federation had been suspended was ineligible from entering international competitions. These include, of course, the Olympic Games.
However CAS conceded it had no jurisdiction over whether the IOC could accept or refuse the entry of Russian track and field athletes, either those representing their country or as ‘neutral athletes.’
The International Association of Athletics Federations welcomed the verdict.
A statement said: “Today’s judgment has created a level playing field for athletes. The CAS award upholds the rights of the IAAF to use its rules for the protection of the sport, to protect clean athletes and support the credibility and integrity of competition.”
IAAF president Sebastian Coe regretted the inevitability of events, saying: “I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. It is our federation’s instinctive desire to include, not exclude.”
The CAS ruling strengthens the hand of the IOC whose executive board will meet on Sunday to consider banning the entire Russian team from Rio. However a significant number of summer Olympic sports federations are opposed to such a move.
On Tuesday the IOC’s executive board called for further legal advice on whether it had the right to impose a blanket ban on Russia.
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