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Russia lashes out at ‘humiliating’ CAS ruling

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has labelled today’s ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the eligibility of Russian athletes for the 2016 Olympic Games as “biased” and “humiliating” for sports as officials lashed out at the verdict ahead of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision on whether to impose a blanket ban.

Earlier today (Thursday) the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) welcomed the CAS decision to uphold its ban on Russian athletes competing at Rio 2016, stating the ruling creates a “level playing field” for athletes.

The CAS issued its decisions in the arbitrations between the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), a group of 68 Russian athletes and the IAAF. The CAS dismissed both the request for arbitration filed by the ROC and the claimant athletes, and the appeal filed by 67 of the same athletes against the IAAF decision to consider them as ineligible for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In November, the IAAF suspended the All Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) from IAAF membership amid the uncovering of a wide-ranging doping system in Russian sport. The IOC this week deliberated over Monday’s damning independent report produced by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren which revealed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and details of a system that included cheating and manipulation of tests by athletes and officials as far back as 2011.

With regard to the participation of Russian athletes at Rio 2016, the IOC said it would “explore the legal options” with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympics versus the right to individual justice. In this respect, the IOC added it would take today’s decision from the CAS into account when deciding whether to apply a blanket ban, with a decision expected on Sunday.

Reacting to today’s ruling, Mutko told Russian news agency Tass: “I can express nothing but regret. We will now consider our further steps. I think this decision is biased and somewhat politicised and has no legal grounds. The verdict of CAS is unprecedented, and it humiliates sports. IAAF is riddled with corruption, it is not clear why no investigative actions are undertaken in this matter. At least, the (IAAF) Ethics Board and IOC (International Olympic Committee) should investigate such things.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has said it considers the blanket ban of track and field athletes inadmissible. President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said: “We believe that the principle of collective responsibility is hardly acceptable. We are speaking here about field and track athletes, who had been preparing hard for the Olympics, who have nothing to do with doping, who have nothing to do with none of accusations and suspicions, who had regularly been tested by foreign anti-doping agencies.”

Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva (pictured), the poster girl of Russian track and field, has also slammed the ruling. Isinbayeva (pictured) was one of the 67 athletes who appealed to CAS and said the final decision will rest with IOC president Thomas Bach.

She added: “Thank you everyone for the funeral of track and field athletics. This is a purely political order. All arguments are aimed against ARAF (All-Russia Athletics Federation) and there is nothing concrete against athletes. This is not sports but politics. But we are athletes without any political skills. Let them rejoice.”