IAAF Bans Russian Track & Field Team From Rio Olympics

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced Friday following a meeting in Vienna that Russia’s track and field team would be barred from competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

According to multiple reports, the IAAF has upheld a ban that was originally instated in November 2015 after a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed that there was widespread doping among Russian track and field athletes. The report detailed a state-sponsored doping program that allowed for what former WADA president Dick Pound called at the time a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels.”

Russia Track And Field Ban
Sergey Shubenkov of Russia celebrating his victory in the 110m hurdles final at the World Championships in Beijing in August 2015.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock.

Following that report, the IAAF then outlined for Russia the criteria it would need to meet in order to be reinstated. Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s sports minister, made a last-minute appeal to the IAAF hours before the final decision came down today assuring that Russia has been doing all it can to fight doping.

“Russia is doing everything possible to ensure our athletes are a part of clean and fair Olympic Games. In light of our efforts, I urge you to reconsider the ban on our athletes,” he wrote in an open letter.

Clearly, that was not adequate as the IAAF came to the conclusion that Russia had not done enough to restore its integrity. On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee is set to meet to discuss the possibility of allowing individual Russian track and field athletes not involved in the doping scandal to compete in Rio.

The IAAF is set to hold a news conference on its decision today.

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