The IAAF, world track and field’s governing body, voted unanimously Friday to uphold its provisional ban on Russian athletes. Unless something extraordinary happens in the next six weeks, Russian runners, throwers, and jumpers won’t be competing in the Olympics.
Russia was provisionally suspended from the IAAF in November, after the widespread, state-sanctioned doping of Russian athletes—and the failure of any of track and field’s governing bodies to detect it—was reported. In the ensuing months we’ve seen report after report about just how corrupt the sport is at its core, and especially in Russia:
While barring Russian track and field athletes from competing in the Olympics, the IAAF left the door open a crack for the few that can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re clean, to compete as a neutral athlete:
The IAAF Council also passed today a rule amendment (the third recommendation) to the effect that if there are any individual athletes who can clearly and convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country, and subject to other, effective anti-doping systems, including effective drug-testing, then they should be able to apply for permission to compete in International Competitions, not for Russia but as a neutral athlete.
While it is quite clear by now that Russia ran a comically comprehensive doping program, there are also undoubtedly clean Russian athletes prevented from competing by this blanket ban, which means one way or another, this thing is going to end up in court. The Guardian talked to John Coates, the president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which will likely hear a case or two:
“We will look at the next step for us,” he said. “The debate next Tuesday will be on the issue of individual justice and rights.
“I’m president of Cas, I would think there would be appeal opportunities, I would imagine for someone who can establish their individual integrity.
“It may be that our meeting next week will set some guidelines for the international federations who again would have the task of deciding if there’s any individual within a federation that they’ve put out who ought to be allowed in, what hurdles that person would need to have to jump.
Russia took the second most track and field medals at the 2012 London Olympics, with their 16 only behind the United States’s 28. Fifteen of those medals were won by women across a variety of events, but Russia was especially strong in the jumping events.