International Olympic Committee Upholds Russia Track & Field Ban

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today upheld a ban on Russian track and field athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics put in place by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body of international track and field.

The IAAF came down with the decision following an investigation that revealed in November a high-reaching, state-sponsored doping program among Russian track and field athletes. The organization then outlined criteria Russia would need to meet in order to restore its integrity and be cleared to compete in Rio. The IAAF announced on Friday that Russia had not met those guidelines.

Russia Track & Field
Russian track and field athletes Mariya Savinova (left) and Ekaterina Poistogova (right) at the 2012 London Olympics.
CREDIT: Getty Images.

In a news conference Friday explaining the decision, IAAF president Sebastian Coe said that “Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public.”

The IOC then met today in Lausanne, Switzerland, and chose to uphold the IAAF’s decision. However, the IOC said Russian track and field athletes who are thoroughly tested and prove that they have not participated in doping will be allowed to compete under the Russian Federation’s flag.

According to some reports, the IAAF has told CNN following the IOC’s decision today that it will not be accepting any individual appeals from Russian athletes despite the IOC’s statement and that the only option left would be to go through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Rune Andersen, who led the IAAF’s task force that determined Russia’s compliance, expressed Friday that it is difficult to know which athletes are truly clean.

“In a system that has so badly failed the athletes in Russia, it is extremely difficult to define or have any presumption that athletes are in a safe and secure enough system for us to conclude that they are eligible for international competition,” Andersen said.

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