Russia’s track and field ban from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) today.
The Russian athletics federation had been suspended by the sports governing body the IAAF after several claims of widespread doping were proven to be true by independent investigations. The Russian Olympic Committee and 68 athletes had appealed against the suspension but after hearing testimony from both sides CAS rule that the ban should stand.
While the ban currently covers only track and field, the International Olympic Committee is considering a games-wide ban on Russia after a second report uncovered a massive state-sponsored doping programme stretching back through the 2014 winter games in Sochi and even as far as Athens 2004.
The Olympics has championed inclusiveness but there is now a global wave of anger and suspicion moving against Russia and the consensus, especially after the state sponsored doping programmes were uncovered, is that there should be a blanket ban on their athletes until the full extent of the doping programmes are uncovered and rectified.
“The CAS panel confirmed that the [Russian Olympic Committee] is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games considering that they are not eligible to participate under the IAAF competition rules,” a spokesman said.
IAAF were pleased that their decision was upheld and said that the judgement created a level playing field for athletes. President Lord Coe however was more disappointed that the whole thing had happened than pleased to have caught it. “This is not a day for triumphant statements.” he said, “I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing”.
That may be, but at this point any kind of benefit of the doubt when it comes to Russian athletes is gone. No doubt there are some clean Russian athletes out there whose dreams of Olympic gold will be dashed, but it is for the good of the sport that drug cheats are removed before the games rather than allowed to compete and then later declared disqualified.