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Rio Olympics 2016: 68 Russian athletes barred from competing at the Games by Court of Arbitration for Sport

Punishment meted out to Russia for state-sponsored doping programme.

News 21 Jul 2016, 15:42 IST
 Richard H. McLaren, flanked by moderator Catherine Doyle, left, and chief investigator Martin Dubbey, tabled the findings of his investigations in July into doping by the Russian Ministry of Sport during the Sochi games

In a major blow to Russia and its medal chances at Rio Olympics, The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland ruled that 68 Russian track-and-field athletes will not be allowed to compete at Rio Olympics. This came after an appeal was filed by Russia's Olympic track and field team of 68 athletes against a ban imposed by the sport's world governing body, the IAAF, following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.

Earlier, the IAAF had approved just two Russians to compete. One of them is doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova and another is long jumper Darya Klishina. Since these athletes had provided evidence that they had been training and living abroad while the doping conspiracy was on, they will be allowed to compete as ‘neutral athletes’. 

This ruling is likely to throw some serious doubts over Russia’s superior Olympic performances in the past as the sports ministry of the country is accused of carrying out a major doping program that has affected 28 summer and winter Olympic sports.

The issue came to light after a report found that Russian Olympians had taken performance enhancing drugs at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. The World Anti-Doping Agency had earlier recommended that all Russian athletes be banned from taking part in any of the events of Rio Games that are scheduled to start in less than two weeks.

The decision is a slap for the country’s sporting establishment more than the athletes. There is a running belief in the sporting circles that some of the athletes heading to Rio might be clean as well and might not have used performance enhancing drugs.

However, the evidence indicates an endemic doping culture in the country which makes it difficult to ascertain whether the current athletes are involved or not. 

The decision could mean, among other athletes, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, who represented the athletes in the case, won’t be seen in action in the Olympics slated to begin from 5th of August. Moreover, the decision could possibly mean curtains on many sporting careers of athletes in the country.

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