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RIO 2016

Russia sports minister: "No chance" of athletes making Rio

Vitaly Mutko admitted in the wake of the IAAF decision to ban Russia that the Games are not an option. Yelena Isinbayeva plans an appeal.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (L).

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko admitted on Saturday that the country's athletes' Olympic hopes are over following a decision made by the IAAF and supported by the IOC.

On Friday, athletics world governing body the IAAF decided to maintain the provisional ban, first imposed in November, against Russian track and field athletes competing at August's Rio Olympics.

On Saturday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it welcomed the IAAF's "strong stance against doping".

"Given the International Olympic Committee's statements, our sports people have no chance" of going to the Games, Mutko told R-Sport agency, before insisting he would fight on for Russia's athletes. "We'll keep going in every way. Our position is clear: the responsibility should be individual, not collective."

On Friday, Mutko had vowed to "react" to the IAAF decision, which he described as "expected".

The IAAF had voted unanimously to extend Russia's ban, although all the while leaving open the door for athletes to compete at the Games as neutrals, as long as they could meet certain strict conditions.

The initial ban, supported by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had been imposed due to state sponsored doping and mass corruption in the Russian testing system.

But the IAAF said on Friday that "individual athletes who can clearly and convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system" could yet take part.

Yelena Isinbayeva at the Moscow World Championships in 2013.
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Yelena Isinbayeva at the Moscow World Championships in 2013.KAI PFAFFENBACHREUTERS

The IOC backed this tough stance, adding on Saturday: "This is in line with the IOC's long-held zero-tolerance policy."

Russian president Vladimir Putin reacted with fury, branding the extension as "unfair", although it was widely supported around the athletics and sporting world.

Speaking on Friday, Putin had also suggested he expected the IOC to oppose the IAAF decision, while vowing to speak with WADA.

The country's pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva said she would challenge in court the IAAF decision.

But in a damning verdict, the IAAF had said that the Russian athletics federation was "at least 18-24 months away from returning to full operational compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code".

"There are detailed allegations, which are already partly substantiated, that the (Russian) Ministry of Sport, far from supporting the anti-doping effort, has in fact orchestrated systemic doping and the covering up of adverse analytical findings," the IAAF said.

To make matters worse for Russia, an independent investigator appointed by WADA said that the Russian government covered up positive drug tests at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow.


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