Russia was facing calls to be kicked out of the Olympics after their highly-regarded track and field squad lost their appeal over being banned from Rio for state-sponsored doping. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling on the athletics team is seen as a key indicator as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) debates whether to order a blanket ban on Russia from the Rio Games that start August 5. The IOC executive board is to hold more talks on Sunday and a decision on a ban could be announced after, an Olympic spokesperson said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked that the IOC “consider its responsibilities.” WADA said they were “satisfied” with the CAS decision, claiming it helps ensure a “level” playing field at next month’s Games. “It is now up to other international federations to consider their responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code as it relates to their Russian national federations and up to the International Olympic Committee, to consider its responsibilities under the Olympic Charter,” the WADA statement said.
Fourteen national anti-doping agencies, including the United States, Canada and Germany, sent a joint letter to IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday calling on him to ban Russia from Rio. Citing the “short amount of time remaining” before the Games, “we believe it is appropriate and necessary for the IOC to take decisive action to uphold the Olympic Charter and the integrity of the Rio Olympic Games,” said the letter, posted on the website of the anti-doping Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
The agencies also called for the establishment of a “task force” to “apply a uniform set of criteria to determine whether individual Russian athletes should be permitted to participate in the Rio Olympic Games under a neutral flag.” The other anti-doping agencies that signed the letter represent Austria, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Russia is a sporting powerhouse whose absence from Rio would create the biggest crisis in decades for the Olympic movement. But there have been widespread calls for exemplary sanctions against the state-orchestrated cheating campaign. “This will scare a lot of people, or send a strong message that the sport is serious about cleaning up,” six-time Olympic sprint title winner Usain Bolt said.
CAS said it had unanimously “dismissed” an appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee and 67 athletes against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban. Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the decision “politicised” . Russia has denied any state involvement in the doping crisis.
The 67 included two time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva and world champion men’s 110m hurdler Sergey Shubenkov. Not all international sports bodies were supporting a blanket ban with the International Judo Federation (IJF) insisting all clean athletes should be allowed to take
part in Rio.