IOC supports IAAF decision to ban Russia’s track & field team ahead of 2016 Olympics

© Denis Balibouse
The International Olympic Committee expressed support for the IAAF’s decision to extend its ban to all Russian track-and-fields athletes over doping, the Olympic body said in a statement.

“The IOC Executive Board, in a telephone conference today, emphasized that it fully respects the IAAF position,” the statement published on Saturday says.

The IOC added that the decision is “in line with the IOC’s long-held zero-tolerance policy” regarding doping.

The body also said that “the eligibility of athletes in any international competition, including the Olympic Games, is a matter for the respective international federation.”

IAAF president Sebastian Coe and Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF task force overseeing Russia’s attempts to reform, announced on Friday that the governing body of world athletics had unanimously supported the disqualification of Russia’s track-and-field team.

“No athlete will compete in Rio under a Russian flag,” Andersen said, adding that a “deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, appears not to be materially changed.”

“Although good progress has been made, the IAAF council was unanimous that RUSAF (Russian Athletic Federation) had not met the reinstatement conditions,” IAAF head Sebastian Coe said at a press conference in Vienna. “And the Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public. As a result, RUSAF has not been reinstated to membership of the IAAF at this stage.”

Only five Russian athletes could be given an exception, but they would only be allowed to enter the competition in Rio as independents.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the IAAF’s unprecedented ruling by saying that “responsibility must always be personified.”

“The people who have no relation to violations, why should they suffer for others?” the president asked during a meeting with the heads of the world’s largest news agencies on the sidelines of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

Putin stressed that there is lack of clinical research about meldonium, a drug that has been at the center of the doping scandal, saying the move to ban Russia’s athletes from the summer Olympic Games may have come as the result of a “a snap” decision.

“I hope that we will find some solution here,” he said.

Russia’s Ministry of Sports said that the IAAF’s decision to uphold the ban had come as no surprise. “The decision to ban the All-Russia Athletic Federation was an expected one, we predicted that,” Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Friday, adding “We will respond.”

Both active and former Russian athletes have spoken out as one, slamming the decision as politically motivated and unfair.

“We have been blamed for something we haven’t done... just because we are from Russia,” Russia’s two-time Olympic pole vault champion, Yelena Isinbayeva, told TASS.

“Let’s be honest, it is clear that the decision was made following orders from above,” former triple jump world champion Yolanda Chen told RT.

Earlier this week, Russian athletes with clean doping records addressed Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, asking him to let them take part in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but apparently the emotional letter was sent in vain.

The final decision regarding Russia’s athletes is to be made at an IOC meeting on June 21 in the city of Lausanne in Switzerland.

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