Finally! Entire Russian track & field team of 67 athletes banned from Olympics

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Finally! Entire Russian track & field team of 67 athletes banned from Olympics

The ignominy of the Russian doping scandal reached its logical end today after the ban on the entire Russian track & field contingent of 67 Russian athletes was upheld. While the athletic federation expressed muted relief over the judgment, Russia, understandably, regretted the collective ban.

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) had imposed a ban on the entire Russian track & field squad after widespread and incontrovertible evidence of state-sanctioned doping was found. The Russian federation had appealed against the decision in the The Court of Arbitration for Sport at Lausanne. However, the Court upheld the decision of the IAAF today.

"The CAS Panel has confirmed the validity of the IAAF's decision to apply Rules...which state that athletes whose national federation is suspended by the IAAF are ineligible for competitions held under the IAAF Rules," a statement from the Lausanne based court said.

The IAAF welcomed the decision saying that the ruling "has created a level playing field for athletes,” reported AFP.

The CAS award upholds the rights of the IAAF to use its rules for the protection of the sport, to protect clean athletes and support the credibility and integrity of competition

IAAF statement

Four-time Olympic medalist, London Olympics Organising Committee Chairman and IAAF president Sebastian Coe however expressed a muted welcome saying "this is not a day for triumphant statements".

Understandably, Russia was unhappy about the decision and said, “The idea of collective responsibility from our point of view can hardly be considered acceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. "We can only express deep regret," he added, reported AFP.

The scandal broke out in December 2014 after a German channel aired documentary evidence of widespread doping by Russia. Detailed reports showed how the sports ministry under Vitaly Mutko had organized the extensive operation under which urine samples from athletes were replaced and kept away from international observers. Interesting but shocking revelations emerged of how holes in the walls of the labs were used to smuggle out samples and replace them with spurious samples.

The decision by the Court, long expected, marks a milestone in the sport's long struggle against doping. While athletes over the world have been caught, state-sanctioned doping has been a hallmark of the erstwhile Soviet Union and the legacy only appears to have been passed on to its successor. With other states in Asia also suspected of organized doping, one hopes that increased ambit to anti-doping agencies is given sooner than later to curb the menace, if not eradicate it.

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