Russian athletes could miss Olympics after IAAF upholds ban

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 (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, file)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, file)

The International Association of Athletics Federations chose Friday to uphold its decision to ban Russian track and field athletes from international competition because of doping.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe announced the decision at a news conference in Vienna.

The IAAF Council met to vote on the association’s November ruling that suspended all Russian track and field athletes indefinitely.

The November suspension came on the back of an independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency that found that Russia’s athletics federation had engaged in state-sponsored doping. The ban does not necessarily expel Russian athletes from the 2016 Summer Olympics though. The International Olympic Committee will have final say on the matter when it convenes on Tuesday, June 21, in Lausanne, Switzerland. There is a thought that the IOC could choose to allow individual Russian athletes to compete in Rio.

Despite claims from the federation that it had cleaned up its act, a report released Wednesday by WADA revealed that many Russian athletes had evaded testing between February and May, and that one athlete had hidden a fake urine sample “inside her body.” The Russian athletics federation would become the first to ever receive a team-wide Olympic ban for competitive reasons, as opposed to political reasons.

The Russian sports ministry responded to the IAAF’s decision with a statement, saying, "We are extremely disappointed by the IAAF's decision to uphold the ban on all of our track and field athletes… Clean athletes' dreams are being destroyed because of the reprehensible behavior 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.

"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. The games are supposed to be a source of unity, and we hope that they remain as a way of bringing people together."

The Olympics begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro.