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IAAF upholds ban on Russia’s track and field team for Rio Olympics

IAAF upholds ban on Russia’s track and field team for Rio Olympics

Moscow: Russian officials confirmed yesterday that the world athletics governing body IAAF had decided to uphold a ban on the country that would see its track and field team miss the Olympic Games in Rio.

Russia's Yelena Isinbaeva during the pole vault qualification at the IAAF World Athletics C’ships in 2013
Russia's Yelena Isinbaeva during the pole vault qualification at the IAAF World Athletics C’ships in 2013

“I can confirm, the suspension is upheld,” Mikhail Butov, general secretary of the Russian athletics federation, told TASS.

The IAAF Council, with 24 of the 27 members taking part, met in Vienna to vote on whether to readmit Russia, first banned in November after a bombshell report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission that said there was state-sponsored doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.

The IAAF is set to make an official statement later Friday. Russia’s sports ministry slammed the decision by the IAAF and said it would mean that all its athletes were banned from the Rio Games.

“We are extremely disappointed by the IAAF’s decision to uphold the ban on all of our track and field athletes, creating the unprecedented situation of a whole nation’s track and field athletes being banned from the Olympics,” the sports ministry said in a statement.

'Clean athletes' dreams are being destroyed
“Clean athletes’ dreams are being destroyed because of the reprehensible behaviour of other athletes and officials. They have sacrificed years of their lives striving to compete at the Olympics and now that sacrifice looks likely to be wasted,” the statement said. The sports ministry said “we now appeal to the members of the International Olympic Committee to not only consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on their dreams and the people of Russia, but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by their absence.” Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS news agency that the decision had been “expected”.

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