Track and field athletes from Russia will be banned from participating in the Rio Olympics in August after officials charged the country ran a state-sponsored doping program.
The Russian Olympic Committee attempted to overturn the suspension after 68 athletes were implicated in an alarming anti-doping report, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the ban will remain in place.
Olympic Officials May Ban Russia Entirely
Russia was suspended from track and field competitions by the International Association of Athletics Federations when it was suspected the country’s government was providing its athletes performance-enhancing drugs. Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko apologized for the Kremlin’s failure to properly punish drug offenders, but did not deny the wider accusations.
The decision to maintain the ban was supported by IAAF president Lord Coe, who called the development disappointing in a statement.
“This is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing,” he said. “Beyond Rio, the IAAF task force will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition.”
The International Olympic Committee is considering banning all Russian competitors from the Rio Games after a second report contended the doping scheme extended into other sports.
Usain Bolt Defends Rio Olympics Ban
Some of Russia’s athletes will still be able to compete in the Rio Olympics as neutrals. Olympic track and field champion Usain Bolt abhorred the decision, but conceded it was necessary.
“It’s sad but rules are rules,” he told BBC News.
Bolt has been recognized as the fastest sprinter in the world after taking the gold for 100-meter and 200-meter competitions. The athlete says his drugs have been a plague on his sport in recent years.
“Doping violations in track and field is getting really bad,” he added. “If you cheat or go or against the rules, this will scare a lot of people.”