Russia banned in wake of doping scandal

Lord Coe
Lord Coe
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The Russian track federation has been provisionally banned from international events tonight in the wake of a damning report which found “state sponsored” doping was rife.

The International Association of Athletics Federations headed by Lord Coe was reported to have voted by 22-1 in favour of the ban last night.

Earlier, in an attempt to stave off a ban, Russian officials said its federation would will “admit some things” mentioned in the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report.

But the offer by Federation president Vadim Zelichenok failed to sway the council yesterday and could open the door to exclusion from next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Russia was represented at the IAAF vote by Mikhail Butov, the track federation’s general secretary and also an IAAF council member.

IAAF president Lord Coe said: “This is a wake-up call for all of us. “

He told the BBC: “Tonight our sport finds itself in a shameful situation. I am wholly focused on the changes that need to be made. I have openly conceded that we need to learn some very tough lessons.

“We need to look at ourselves, within our sport, and we will do that.”

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the suspension was “temporary” and that any problems could be solved.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had insisted on Wednesday that clean athletes should be allowed to compete and asked Russian sports officials to carry out an internal investigation into the allegations made in the doping report.

The Russian government has consistently slammed the Wada commission’s report for what it says is a lack of evidence.

Mr Mutko said there was an over-reliance on confidential sources and condemned the inclusion of material from undercover recordings made by whistleblowers, which he said violated the rights of those accused of doping.

Earlier, the minister raised the issue of Russia boycotting the Olympics, insisting: “Never. Russia is against a boycott. Russia is against political interference in sport. Understand that Russia is a dependable partner of the international Olympic movement.”

Three days after the Wada report accused Russia of state-sponsored doping, Mr Mutko appealed for Russia’s track team to be allowed to compete, also arguing that a blanket ban would unfairly punish clean athletes.

Mr Mutko said: “It will be painful for those athletes with clean consciences who could compete, that’s the first thing. And the second thing is that it goes against the spirit of the Wada code.

“The commission itself writes about it in its report. It’s about protecting the athletes with clean consciences.”

The doping scandal also entered the arena of international diplomacy on Thursday as the Russian foreign ministry issued a stinging critique of the report’s authors.

A spokeswoman said: “The position of the special commission on doping with regards to Russian athletes looks extremely biased, politicised.”

She added that sources cited in the report seem “extremely doubtful”.

In Sochi, the host city of last year’s Winter Olympics, some Russian track and field athletes trained in the sun on Thursday.

Many remained upbeat about their chances of competing in the Olympics while questioning why other countries were not being investigated alongside Russia.