Ban on Russian athletes at Rio 2016 is upheld

Russian 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova has opted to compete as a neutral at Rio 2016.

The decision to ban Russian athletes from next month’s Rio Olympics has been upheld by Cas (Court of Arbitration for Sport), despite 68 Russian athletes and the Russian Olympic Committee appealing against it. The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) suspended Russia’s athletics federation after an independent report discovered evidence of the country’s widespread doping.

The IAAF had said that, in spite of the ban, some Russian athletes could compete in Rio 2016 as neutrals. This would be dependent on them meeting certain criteria including taking repeated doping tests outside their homeland. 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova and long jumper Darya Klishina are two athletes who have already opted to do this.

A Cas spokesperson told the BBC that the panel had “expressed concerns” of the short timeframe and that it “left no possibility for the Russian athletes to comply with the criteria”.

Additionally, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is considering banning all Russian competitors from the Olympic Games following this week’s McClaren report, which revealed the Russian state-sponsored doping programme ran for four years and included a ‘vast majority’ of Olympic sports.

“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games. Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.

"Beyond Rio, the IAAF taskforce will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition,” added IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe.