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Russia loses appeal against ban on track and field athletes at Rio Olympics

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By Euronews
Russia loses appeal against ban on track and field athletes at Rio Olympics

A legal challenge by a group of Russian track and field athletes against their exclusion from next month’s Summer Olympics in Rio has been rejected.

The ruling comes amid claims of widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia.

The appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport or CAS, was launched by the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes who said they were being punished despite not having failed drugs tests.

CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb, however, stressed that the IOC would have the final word.

“Since the International Olympic Committee was not a party to these arbitrations, the CAS has no jurisdiction to determine whether the IOC is entitled to accept or refuse the nomination by the Russian Olympic Committee of Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio,” he said.

Amid growing allegations of doping, the affair has triggered a crisis, with the International Olympic Committee pondering whether to impose a blanket ban on Russia in all sports.

Moscow has condemned today’s ruling -a grave blow to a nation that prides itself as a sporting superpower.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I certainly regret such a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which refers to absolutely all of our athletes.”

“The principle of collective responsibility is hardly acceptable,” Peskov said.

Russian track and field athletes were banned from international competition in November after an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found rampant state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

The ban was imposed by the IAAF, the global governing body for athletics, which reconfirmed it last month, saying there were still considerable problems with anti-doping in Russia.

On Monday, another WADA report revealed evidence of systematic and widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian competitors before and at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

This has prompted the IOC to consider banning Russia from Rio altogether.

The IAAF said it was pleased that CAS had supported its ban.

“While we are thankful that our rules and our power to uphold our rules and the anti-doping code have been supported, this is not a day for triumphant statements,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

“I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. It is our federation’s instinctive desire to include, not exclude.”