Athletics

Russia in final plea to IOC over athletes' ban

Sebastian Coe (Getty Images)
Sebastian Coe (Getty Images)

Lausanne - Russia has a zero tolerance policy on doping, the country's national Olympic committee's president told the Olympic summit on Tuesday, saying the "unfair" IAAF ban meant its athletes were "punished for the sins of others".

In an address to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) head by president Thomas Bach, Aleksander Zhukov warned that it was "a crucial moment which can strengthen or weaken the Olympic Movement, bringing it to destruction".

"It is a matter of individual or collective responsibility of athletes from those countries where anti-doping rules are being violated. The protection of the rights of clean athletes also needs to be discussed," he said.

"We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the IAAF Council to ban Russian track and field athletes from international competition, including the Olympic Games in Rio.

"We consider it unfair on the vast majority of our athletes who have never doped and have not violated any criteria."

Zhukov said dozens of samples had been checked by independent, foreign anti-doping authorities after the suspension of Russia's RUSADA, questioning who the IAAF now did not trust.

"Out of the several thousand samples taken from Russian athletes in and out of competition over this period, only three turned out to be positive, including one in athletics, for substances other than Meldonium," which was found in 49 samples, he said.

Zhukov added: "Do you really think it is fair to make it impossible for Elena Isinbayeva and Sergey Shubenkov to participate in the Olympic Games which will be attended by Tyson Gay and twice disqualified for doping Justin Gatlin?

"From the perspective of Russian athletes, it is an extreme injustice and humiliation. And just imagine – in the absence of athletes who never violated any rules - how cynical Yuliya Stepanova's participation will be, after she was disqualified for doping some time ago."

800m runner Stepanova received a two-year ban from the IAAF in 2013 after abnormalities showed up in her biological passport, but then turned doping whistleblower before seeking exile.

"Banning clean athletes from the Rio Olympic Games contradicts the values of the Olympic Movement and violates the principles of the Olympic Charter; it is also legally indefensible and devalues their competitors’ success," Zhukov continued.

"The Russian athletes who have never violated anti-doping rules and RusAF will appeal to CAS in order to protect the interests and rights of all athletes who have proven their innocence and have not used prohibited substances or methods."

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