Russia is on the verge of to be kicked out of the Rio Olympics 2016, as their highly-ranked track and field team lost their appeal over being banned from the “Greatest Show on the Earth”, which is scheduled to start from the next month, for state-sponsored doping. Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had unanimously “dismissed” yesterday an appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee and 67 athletes, including the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Pole Vault; Yelena Isinbayeva and current world champion in men’s 100m hurdle; Sergey Shubenkov , against the ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
As the CAS has ruled out the Russian athletics team from taking part in the Rio Olympics, the debates have started whether the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will order a blanket ban on Russia from this quadrennial sporting event. An Olympic spokesperson said that the IOC executive board meeting would be held on Sunday, and the decision on banning the entire Russian team will be taken afterwards.
On the other hand, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said that they are “satisfied” with whatever decision CAS had taken and also ordered IOC to “consider its responsibilities”. WADA is a statement said, “It is now up to other international federations to consider their responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code as it relates to their Russian national federations and up to the International Olympic Committee… to consider its responsibilities under the Olympic Charter.”
Russia has always been a sporting supergiant in the Olympics and their absence from the game would be a huge loss for the reputation of the game. But there have been a worldwide hue and cry for exemplary sanctions against the state-controlled doping campaign.
The legendary sprinter and 6-times Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt welcome this decision took by CAS and said, “This will scare a lot of people, or send a strong message that the sport is serious about cleaning up.”
The chief executive of the United States anti-doping body (USADA), Travis Tygart also vouched for an all-out ban and said, “We hope … the IOC will now follow the path this decision (by CAS) has paved and restore faith in the Olympic values by exercising its authority to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee while allowing for a process by which individual Russian athletes can compete if they can prove they are truly clean.”
Although not every international sporting bodies are supporting the blanket ban. Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Sports Minister, said the CAS’s decision is “politicised” and “illegal” and also firmly turned down the allegation of state-orchestrated doping. The International Judo Federation also appealed for allowing the clean athletes to take part in the Rio Olympics 2016. The IJF President Marius Vizer said, “We hope that by allowing participation of Russian athletes in Rio 2016, we will send out a positive message to all the young people who deserve to be given examples of friendship instead of examples of Cold War.”
Isinbayeva, the holder of numerous world records in Pole Vault said the CAS decision as a “funeral for athletics.” Maria Kuchina, the 23-year old High Jumper and was a strong contender for the medal before the dreading announcement came, said “My first reaction was: it’s just not true! How can it be! The world’s going crazy.” Initially, 68 Russian athletes had appealed against the IAAF, but only Darya Klishina, the US-based long jumper got the green flag to take part in Rio.
In the 2012 London Olympics, Russia finished behind the USA in terms athletics medal tally, with seven gold, four silver and five bronze medals. But due to the doping failure, most have already been lost or at dire risk. Thomas Bach, the IOC president, termed Russia’s actions as “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.”
On the other hand, Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president welcomed the CAS order but also said: “This is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing.