MONTREAL: Russia was facing calls to be kicked out of the Olympics on Thursday (Friday in Manila) after their highly regarded track and field squad lost their appeal over being banned from Rio for state-sponsored doping.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling on the athletics team is seen as a key indicator as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) debates whether to order a blanket ban on Russia from the Rio Games that start August 5.
The IOC executive board is to hold more talks on Sunday and a decision on a ban could be announced after, an Olympic spokesperson said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked that the IOC “consider its responsibilities.”
WADA said they were “satisfied” with the CAS decision, claiming it helps ensure a “level” playing field at next month’s Games.
“It is now up to other international federations to consider their responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code as it relates to their Russian national federations and up to the International Olympic Committee… to consider its responsibilities under the Olympic Charter,” the WADA statement said.
Fourteen national anti-doping agencies, including the United States, Canada and Germany, sent a joint letter to IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday calling on him to ban Russia from Rio.
Citing the “short amount of time remaining” before the Games, “we believe it is appropriate and necessary for the IOC to take decisive action to uphold the Olympic Charter and the integrity of the Rio Olympic Games,” said the letter, posted on the website of the anti-doping Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
The agencies also called for the establishment of a “task force” to “apply a uniform set of criteria to determine whether individual Russian athletes should be permitted to participate in the Rio Olympic Games under a neutral flag.”
The other anti-doping agencies that signed the letter represent Austria, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Russia is a sporting powerhouse whose absence from Rio would create the biggest crisis in decades for the Olympic movement.
But there have been widespread calls for exemplary sanctions against the state-orchestrated cheating campaign.
“This will scare a lot of people, or send a strong message that the sport is serious about cleaning up,” six-time Olympic sprint title winner Usain Bolt of Jamaica said of the court ruling.
CAS said it had unanimously “dismissed” an appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee and 67 athletes against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban.
Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called the CAS decision “politicised” and illegal. Russia has denied any state involvement in the doping crisis.
The 67 included two time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva and world champion men’s 110m hurdler Sergey Shubenkov.
Funeral for athletics
Not all international sports bodies were supporting a blanket ban with the International Judo Federation (IJF) insisting all clean athletes should be allowed to take part in Rio.
“We hope that by allowing participation of Russian athletes in Rio 2016, we will send out a positive message to all the young people who deserve to be given examples of friendship instead of examples of Cold War,” said IJF president Marius Vizer.
The IAAF ban covers all international competition and follows an investigation by WADA last year which found widespread “state-sponsored” doping.
Isinbayeva slammed the CAS ruling as a “funeral for athletics.”
High jumper Maria Kuchina — a medal hopeful for the Games — was competing at an event near Moscow that she hoped would be a warm-up for Brazil when the news she had been dreading came through.
“My first reaction was: It’s just not true! How can it be! The world’s going crazy,” 23-year-old Kuchina told journalists.
Originally, 68 Russians had appealed against the IAAF ban but the governing body has cleared US-based long jumper Darya Klishina to compete in Rio.
The IAAF has said Russian athletes who prove they were not tainted by their country’s corrupt system could be cleared for the Games.
With the Olympics just two weeks away that list will inevitably be short, but CAS judges ruled that any Russian track and field competitor who meets the IAAF criteria can compete in Brazil.
The CAS ruling has been the focus of Olympic attention since an independent WADA report this week said Russia ran a “state-dictated failsafe system” of drug cheating in 30 sports at the 2014 Sochi Games and other major events.
Bach, the IOC president, has called Russia’s actions a “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.”
According to a report released this week by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, the doping included the switching of Russian samples by secret service operatives at the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
It said the operation was directed by the sports ministry, with help from the FSB intelligence agency.
The IAAF suspended Russia in November after an inquiry which first spoke of “state-sponsored” doping.
Russia was the second most successful athletics nation at the 2012 London Olympics, behind the United States, with seven gold medals, four silver and five bronze.
Originally, Russia had 17 medals. But several have already been lost or are at risk because of doping failures.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe welcomed the CAS ruling but said: “This is not a day for triumphant statements.
“I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing.”