Despite IAAF ban, some Russian track athletes may be allowed to compete in Rio

The International Association of Athletics Federations upheld its international ban of Russia’s track and field federation, but some athletes may be able to compete in the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

While, the IAAF noted that Russia’s “deep-seated culture of tolerance (or worse) for doping” that resulted in the original November ban has not changed, the organization also passed a rule amendment that would allow "a tiny crack in the door" for athletes who live and train outside of Russia to compete independently.

“If there are any individual athletes who can clearly and convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country, and subject to other, effective anti-doping systems, including effective drug-testing, then they should be able to apply for permission to compete in International Competitions, not for Russia but as a neutral athlete,” the IAAF said in a statement.

The IAAF upheld its ban over Russia's track and field program, but some athletes may be allowed to compete in Rio. (AFP)
The IAAF upheld its ban over Russia's track and field program, but some athletes may be allowed to compete in Rio. (AFP)

The IAAF also said it would give whistleblowers, like middle distance runner Yuliya Stepanova, favorable consideration.

And in a May op-ed, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach noted the difficult decision between “collective responsibility and individual justice,” perhaps opening a door for clean athletes.

“This could mean that concerned athletes would have to demonstrate that their international and independently proven test record is compliant with the rules of their International Federation and the World Anti-Doping Code, providing a level playing field with their fellow competitors,” Bach wrote in the op-ed.

The IOC has called a summit for next week to propose a compromise that would allow clean athletes to compete independently in Rio.

The Russian Ministry of Sport appealed to IOC members after Friday’s ruling, asking them to “consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on their dreams” and rejected the idea of athletes competing independently.

According to the Associated Press, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the idea "absurd" and said, because Russia's drug testing program has been overseen by foreign organizations since November, that puts them outside the Russian system and therefore eligibile to compete.