Risk of Full Russia Olympic Ban Looms as CAS Rejects Rio Appeal

  • Court rejects petitions by Russian Olympic Committee, athletes
  • IOC is considering ban on Russia competing at Rio games

An international arbitration court rejected a last-ditch attempt by the Russian Olympic Committee to allow 67 of its athletes to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, opening the door to a full ban on Russia in the wake of a sweeping doping scandal.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the right of the International Association of Athletics Federations to declare the track-and-field athletes ineligible to compete at the games, which start Aug. 5, the CAS said in a statement Thursday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the decision deeply regrettable on a conference call to reporters.

The International Olympic Committee has said it will consider the court’s ruling when weighing a collective ban on virtually all Russian athletes for the Olympics. It’s acting after an independent report concluded that the Russian Sports Ministry oversaw a vast program to manipulate doping test results, which culminated in an effort by the state security service to swap out athletes’ positive urine samples during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The IOC has already refused to accredit Russian officials to Rio.

“Athletes whose national federation is suspended by the IAAF are ineligible for competitions held under the IAAF Rules, in accordance with the Olympic Charter,” the CAS, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, said in its statement. “These competitions include the athletics events at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin complained after the doping report was published on Monday that sport was being turned into a tool of “geopolitical pressure” in ways similar to those that led to boycotts of the 1980 Moscow games and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics at the height of the Cold War. “We are seeing a dangerous return to politics interfering with sport,” Putin said in a statement on the Kremlin’s website.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, which commissioned the report, has suggested banning all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee for competition in Rio, limiting participation to Russian nationals who compete under a neutral flag and “in accordance with very strict criteria,” according to a statement on its website.

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