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Added June 21st, 2016 by Ian

Russia’s Track and Field Team booted out of 2016 Olympics

The world’s governing body for track and field, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has banned Russia’s track team from competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil due to widespread illegal drug use. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the final say on the matter, but recently announced they support the ban. However, Russia stated that it will appeal the move. Sebastian Coe, the president of the IAAF said his organization came to a unanimous decision on the matter and Russia doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything to tackle the cheating allegations.

Rune Andersen, who headed an independent task force for the IAAF, told the media, “the deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, for doping that got Russian Athletics suspended appears not to have changed.”<(i> President Vladimir Putin of Russia may now decide to boycott the Olympics entirely if the track and field appeal fails. If Russia decides not to show up for the games though, the nation may find it hard to acquire hosting rights for future sporting events and their role as host nation for the 2018 World Cup of soccer could be jeopardised.

The IAAF said that some track-and-field athletes from Russia may compete at the Olympics as independent competitors if they can prove they’re drug free. This means they’ll have to pass some strict anti-doping tests and could include runner Yulia Stepanova. The Russian ban comes seven months after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conducted an investigation into Russian track and field and found state-sponsored doping, corruption, and a cover-up scheme. WADA released a report on its findings last November and the IAAF announced it was banning Russia’s track and field team from international events.

The IAAF also said the suspension would be lifted if Russia overhauled its anti-doping system and enabled it to be overseen by international authorities. But WADA says there are still problems with the testing system in the country. Testing was carried out on hundreds of Russian athletes by personnel from the UK recently, but many other athletes didn’t show up and Russian officials threatened to throw the testing agents out of the country. Some athletes even managed to evade their drug tests at competitions. Once the report was made public other nations asked the IOC and IAAF to lower the boom on Russia.

There should be a noticeable difference at the Olympics since Russia has captured 78 medals in track and field since the Soviet Union fell. To make matters worse, Russia’s former anti-doping director recently told the New York Times that his country threw out samples of cheating Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Those claims are now being investigated. Russia has admitted to some wrongdoing in past cases, but denies the allegations regarding Sochi. They also claim that the nation is reforming its their anti-doping system and is testing more athletes and handing out stricter punishment to cheaters. If the Sochi allegations turn out to be true, Putin won’t have to decide whether to boycott the 2016 Olympics or not as the IOC will do it for him by banning all Russian athletes.

 
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