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Russia loses appeal of Olympic ban on track and field athletes

In this Aug. 11, 2012 file photo Russia's Mariya Savinova crosses the finish line to win gold in the women's 800-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London. Russia lost its appeal Thursday, July 21, 2016 against the Olympic ban on its track and field athletes, a decision which could add pressure on the IOC to exclude the country entirely from next month's games in Rio de Janeiro. The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal of 68 Russian athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.
In this Aug. 11, 2012 file photo Russia's Mariya Savinova crosses the finish line to win gold in the women's 800-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London. Russia lost its appeal Thursday, July 21, 2016 against the Olympic ban on its track and field athletes, a decision which could add pressure on the IOC to exclude the country entirely from next month's games in Rio de Janeiro. The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal of 68 Russian athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, file)

LONDON – Russia lost its appeal Thursday against the Olympic ban on its track and field athletes, a decision which could add pressure on the IOC to exclude the country entirely from next month’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal of 68 Russian athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of state-sponsored doping and coverups.

READ MORE: IOC to explore possible blanket ban for Russia at Rio Olympics after doping report

The court, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, upheld the “validity” of the IAAF ban, saying a country whose national federation is suspended is ineligible from entering international competitions, including the Olympics.

The three-person panel ruled that the Russian Olympic Committee “is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games considering that they are not eligible to participate under the IAAF competition rules.”

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CAS, however, said it had no jurisdiction on whether the International Olympic Committee can accept or refuse the entry of Russian track and field athletes, either those representing their country or as “neutral athletes.”

The Russians argued against a collective ban of its track athletes, saying it punishes those who have not been accused of wrongdoing.

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“Today’s judgment has created a level playing field for athletes,” the IAAF said in a statement. “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.”

READ MORE: How Russia pulled off state-sponsored cheating at the Olympics

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said it was “not a day for triumphant statements.”

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

Thursday’s ruling is likely to weigh heavily on whether the IOC could bar the entire Russian team – across all sports, not just track – following new allegations of a vast government-organized doping program.

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, issued a report Monday that accused Russia’s sports ministry of orchestrating a vast doping system that affected 28 summer and winter Olympic sports.

The IOC executive board said Tuesday it would “explore the legal options” for a possible total ban on Russia but would wait until after the CAS ruling before making a final decision. The IOC has scheduled another executive board meeting on Sunday to consider the issue.

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Had the IAAF ban been thrown out by CAS and the Russian track athletes let back in, that would seemingly have ruled out the IOC imposing a blanket ban. With the track ban upheld, however, the option remains open.

As it stands, the IAAF has approved just two Russians to compete, as “neutral athletes,” after they showed they had been training and living abroad under a robust drug testing regime. One is doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the other is Florida-based long jumper Darya Klishina.

READ MORE: ‘It’s disgusting and frustrating’: Calgary-based Olympians react to Russian doping scandal

The case dates back to November, when the IAAF suspended Russia’s track and field federation following a WADA commission report that alleged systematic and state-backed doping. The International Association of Athletics Federations upheld the ban last month, a decision accepted by the IOC.

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In extending the ban, the IAAF said Russia’s entire drug-testing system had been corrupted and tainted and there was no way to prove which athletes were clean. Letting Russian athletes compete in the games would undermine the credibility of the competition, according to the IAAF.

Russian ban may “scare a lot of people”: Usain Bolt

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt says Russian athletes being banned from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will “scare a lot of people” thinking about doping.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling earlier Thursday confirmed an IAAF ban on Russian track and field athletes from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Bolt, the winner of six Olympic gold medals, says “this will scare a lot of people, send a strong message.”

The IOC is also mulling whether to follow the IAAF’s decision and ban the entire Russia team from Rio over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Bolt says recent actions by authorities show that “if you cheat or if you go against the rules” then “serious action” will be taken.

The world’s fastest man was speaking in London ahead of a Diamond League meet where he will compete in the 200 metres on Friday.

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