Doping Scandal Results in 2016 Rio Olympics Ban for Russian Track and Field Athletes
On July 21, 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected the Russian Olympic Committee’s appeal of the Nov. 14, 2015 suspension of Russian track and field athletes by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The Court’s ruling means that 68 Russian track and field athletes will not be able to participate in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics (beginning on Aug. 5) due to doping.
The IAAF suspended the Russian athletes from all international competition in a 24-1 vote after news broke of widespread Russian doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Head of a Moscow drug testing lab, Grigory Rodchenko, admitted to developing a three-drug cocktail, mixed with liquor to speed the absorption of the drugs, that he gave to dozens of Russian athletes, including at least 15 medal winners. Rodchenko switched tainted samples given at the Olympics with clean samples provided months earlier, passing the samples through a “mouse hole” in the wall of the sample collection room in Sochi. As a result, all Russian athletes tested clean at the Sochi Olympics.
Two Russian athletes, Darya Klishina, a long jumper, and Yuliya Stepanova, a middle-distance runner, both of whom have been living in the United States and independently drug-tested, have been cleared to compete in the 2016 Olympics as individual, neutral competitors, but cannot compete under the Russian flag.
Russian pole vaulter, Yelena Isinbayeva, one of the 68 banned athletes, stated that the ruling was “a blatant political order,” adding, “Thank you all for this funeral for athletics.”
Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Sports Minister, stated, “In my view, certainly, this decision absolutely violates the rights of clean athletes, honest athletes, and sets a collective responsibility precedent.”
IAAF President Lord Coe stated, “This is not a day for triumphant statements, I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. Beyond Rio, the IAAF taskforce will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition.”
The doping scandal came to light in a 2014 German documentary, and a 2015 Independent Commission established by WADA found evidence of a Russian state-sponsored doping program as far back as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, if not longer. A new study known as the McLaren Report was released this week and alleged that Russia’s Sports Minister was involved with manipulating the anti-doping measures. Besides track and field participants, athletes in 27 other sports including weightlifting, cycling, and wrestling are believed to have gotten away with doping.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering a total ban on Russian athletes at the 2016 Olympics.
BBC, “Rio Olympics 2016: Russia Fails to Overturn Athlete Ban for Next Month’s Games,” bbc.com, July 21, 2016
Owen Gibson, “Russia Accused of ‘State-Sponsored Doping’ as Wada Calls for Athletics Ban,” theguardian.com, Nov. 9, 2015
Alastair Jamieson, “Rio Olympics: IOC Delays Decision on Banning Russia over Doping,” nbcnews.com, July 19, 2016
James Masters, “Russia Olympics: Russian Athletes Lose Doping Ban Appeal,” cnn.com, July 21, 2016
Michael Pearson, “International Sports Federation Votes to Suspend Russia over Doping Scandal,” edition.cnn.com, Nov. 14, 2015
Rebecca R. Ruiz, “Sports Court Upholds Ban on Russian Track and Field Athletes,” nytimes.com, July 21, 2016
Rebecca R. Ruiz and Michael Schwirtz, “Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold,” nytimes.com, May 12, 2016