2016 Rio Olympics

Russian athletics team banned in Olympics, described as “rotten to the core.”

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After an initial suspension last year of Russian athletics due to anti-doping violations, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has reaffirmed its decision and banned all track and field athletes from further competing in the Rio Olympics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the decision as “unjust” and possibly politicized, while the country’s sports minister denies these allegations saying it was very disappointed of the ruling.

It appears that the IAAF’s decision is based on facts, and not merely on politically charged motives. In fact, it has laid out detailed complaints over time about harassments made by Russia’s secret service, FSB, in order to deter or block drug testers. WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) reports that due to government collusion its urine samples are contaminated, or tampered.

It further states that 99% of athletes from Russian athletics have cheated.

Officials of the IAAF draws an outline of how corruption has become widespread in the Russian athletic program and even described it as “rotten to the core.” It accuses customs officials of tampering with their athlete’s sample tests as they left the country, and that they were intimidated during the whole investigation.

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The world athletics governing body says it is open to let Russian athletes training abroad to compete in the Olympics as neutrals. But the statement calls for more clarification. Yury Borzakovsky, Russia’s national athletic head coach supposes this refers to athletes who are training not as part of the Russian team, since they have trained, too, outside the country on many occasions.

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Despite the long list of violations presented by WADA, Russia’s Ministry of Sport contends its innocence and points to its past anti-doping scientist, Grigory Rodchenkov as the mastermind of it all. Rodchenkov’s was the whistleblower of Russia’s state-backed corruption prior to leaving the country. He is currently under investigation for possible violations of his authority.

Russia considers making an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and hopes to reverse IAAF’s ruling.

If more evidence comes to light involving other sports, WADA president, Sir Craig Reedie said it might recommend the suspension of other Russian athletes, if not a complete ban in the Olympics, which he describes as “the nuclear option … but not impossible.”


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