Court of Arbitration for Sport rejects Russian appeal against ban of 68 athletes

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Thursday it had rejected Russia’s appeal against the exclusion of its track and field athletes from the Rio Games starting on Aug. 5.

“CAS rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes,” CAS said in a statement.

The ruling by the CAS, sport’s highest tribunal, will be taken into consideration by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as it ponders whether to impose a blanket ban on Russia from all sports.

The affair has triggered a crisis in world sport, with Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking of the risk of a split in the Olympic movement.

Russian track and field athletes were banned from international competition in November after an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency found rampant state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

The ban was imposed by the IAAF, the global governing body for athletics, which reconfirmed it last month, saying there were still considerable problems with anti-doping in Russia.

The appeal was launched by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and 68 Russian athletes who said they were being punished despite not having failed drugs tests, and that they should be eligible to compete in Rio.

On Monday, another WADA report revealed evidence of systematic and widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian competitors before and at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. This has prompted the IOC to consider banning Russia from Rio altogether.

The IOC is expected to reach a final decision within the next week and has said it will take the CAS ruling into account.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday he regretted the CAS decision, Interfax news agency reported.

“I regret this decision,” the agency quoted Mutko as saying. “Unfortunately, a certain precedent has been established for collective responsibility,” for doping violations by individual sportspeople.

Mutko said Russian officials will consider what steps to take in the light of the court’s decision, and that things could not be left as they are, Interfax reported.

It comes as John Fahey said Russia’s presence at the Games would threaten the integrity of the entire Olympic movement.

Former WADA president Fahey says the International Olympic Committee (IOC) must impose a blanket ban on Russia competing next month in Brazil, after this week’s WADA report revealing systematic, state-backed drug cheating from 2011-15.

The damning report, by WADA investigator Richard McLaren, has compelled the IOC’s executive board to meet on Sunday (Monday AEST) in Lausanne, where it will consider McLaren’s recommendation to prohibit all Russian athletes from Rio.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates will be at Sunday’s meeting as an IOC vice-president, however the national body has declined to comment until then.Fahey believed the decision was “clear cut” – Russia’s “widespread corruption” meant the entire team had no place at the Games.He was concerned about the impact their presence would have on clean athletes.And after months of global headlines over the country’s doping scandal, he also feared a reprieve would blacken the public’s perception of the Olympic movement.

“The McLaren report makes it abundantly clear that if they want to safeguard the integrity of the Olympic Games, they need to ban Russia,” Fahey told Associated Press.”To have Russia there will put into jeopardy the world’s view of the Olympics.”This is widespread corruption – not individual; not a group; not one sport.

“It’s a conspiracy of the state through the ministry of sport, the anti-doping organisation, their security service and the previously accredited Moscow lab.”They have all conspired to bring this about.”It was a view shared by Russian-born pole vaulter Tatiana Grigorieva.

Grigorieva, who won Olympic silver for Australia at the Sydney 2000 Games, said the findings scared her and proved “the system is rotten”.But Australian Olympic great Andrew Gaze hoped innocent Russians wouldn’t be kicked out of Rio, though he conceded the IOC might be left with no other option.

“I can understand the rationale behind (calls for a blanket ban) because, if you’ve got organisations just blatantly cheating, you don’t want them there,” said Gaze, who represented Australia in basketball at five Olympics.”But to me, it’s like anything – you don’t want to punish the innocent.”If there are those that are innocent, then it’s a big, big price to pay, to say we’re going to kick the whole nation out.”


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