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FACTBOX - IAAF vote on Russian ban

Athletes compete during the Russian Indoor Championships 2016 in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Files
Athletes compete during the Russian Indoor Championships 2016 in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Files

REUTERS - The Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) meets in Vienna on Friday to decide if Russia can return to athletics having been banned since November.

Here are the main issues surrounding the vote.

Why was Russia banned?

A report by a commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last year revealed doping, cover-ups and attempted bribery on a huge scale in the country. The authors of the commission's report described it as state-sponsored doping.

The IAAF Council voted last November to ban Russia from all athletics and when they met again in March, retained the ban after hearing from a specially-commissioned task force that little progress had been made.

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Why are they meeting now?

Friday's meeting was scheduled so that if the ban is lifted Russian athletes have a fair chance of achieving the Olympic qualifying standard ahead of the July 11 deadline.

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If the Council votes to maintain the ban, will Russian athletes not be able to compete in track and field in Rio?

Not necessarily. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it has concerns about innocent athletes being punished and will make the final decision at its own meeting next week.

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Does that mean the IOC is prepared to overrule the IAAF in a matter of athletics?

It would appear so, although IOC president Thomas Bach has been careful not to say anything definitive on the issue.

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What is the expected outcome?

Impossible to say. Some observers suggest the IOC's position gives the IAAF a "free run" to maintain the ban, knowing that the Olympic decision is effectively out of their hands.

Others suggest political pressure to ensure Russian participation in Rio will swing the vote in Russia's favour.

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What did this week's latest WADA report say?

WADA's report on Wednesday revealed there was still an enormous doping problem in Russia, not only in the failing of tests but in collusion to prevent them being carried out.

Some athletes ran off the track to avoid finishing and facing testers, others retired on the spot when confronted while one tried to give a fake urine sample.

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What is Russia's defence?

It is three-fold. Firstly, Russia says it has made significant progress in reforming its anti-doping measures and has replaced many of the people exposed by the initial WADA commission report.

Secondly, Russia says it is being unfairly targeted when many other countries, including other strong athletics nations such as Kenya and Ethiopia, have fallen foul of the WADA code.

Thirdly, Russia says it is unfair to punish clean athletes with a blanket ban because of the cheating of others. Some Russian officials and athletes have threatened legal action if the country is banned from the Olympics.

Russia's representative is allowed to address the Council on Friday but is not allowed to vote.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, Editing by Ken Ferris)

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