Russian athletes ban is ‘unfair’, says Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has said it is unjust and unfair that
Russian athletes remain banned from international
competition, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF)
decided not to lift the suspension, imposed after accusations
of state-sponsored doping.
Individual athletes can compete as neutrals if they prove
they are clean.
The Russian president called on other bodies, including the
International Olympic Committee (IOC), to intervene.
The IOC executive board said it would hold a telephone
conference on Saturday to discuss the issue ahead of a full
IOC summit in Lausanne on Tuesday.
“There are universally recognised principles of law and one
of them is that the responsibility should be always
personified,” said President Putin.
“The people who have nothing to do with violations, why
should they suffer for those who committed the violations?
“I’m assuming that we’ll have a discussion with our
colleagues in the World Anti-Doping structure and I hope for
a suitable reaction from the International Olympic
Committee.”
The country was suspended by the IAAF in November
2015, after an independent World Anti-Doping Association
(Wada) report depicted a culture of widespread doping, with
even the secret services involved.
After that, Russia introduced reforms including an overhaul
of the rules, the introduction of independent testing, and
anti-doping lessons in schools.
A task force has been studying those reforms but a fresh
Wada report, issued on Wednesday, made more damaging
claims.
Although significant progress has been made to meet the
IAAF’s criteria, it said, work still remains. In particular:
The deep-seated culture of tolerance for doping appears
not to have changed. The head coach of the athletics team
and athlete appear unwilling to acknowledge the extent of
the doping problem.
A strong and effective anti-doping infrastructure capable of
detecting and deterring doping has still not been created.
There are detailed allegations that the Ministry of Sport has
orchestrated systematic doping and cover-ups.
Wada said officials in Russia were being stopped from
testing athletes and threatened by security services.
Rune Andersen of the IAAF said Russian athletics had been
“tainted by doping from the top level down.”
“The systematic doping that has been ongoing in Russia – it’s
difficult to pick the clean athletes,” he said.
IOC vice-president John Coates said Russia’s athletes should
remain banned and not be allowed to take part in the Rio
Games this summer.
He also said Russia’s anti-doping agency and athletics body
were “rotten to the core”.
Meanwhile, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva said she
would challenge the IAAF’s decision in court, claiming it was
“a human rights violation”.
Isinbayeva, 34, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008,
added: “I’m disappointed and angry. I am offended.
“Nobody fought for our rights and there are huge concerns
over the IAAF itself and its stance on defending the rights of
clean athletes.
“We are blamed for something we have not done. I will not
remain silent, I will take measures. I will appeal to the
human rights court.”
In a statement, Russia’s Ministry of Sport said it was
“extremely disappointed” by the IAAF decision, adding that it
believed “clean athletes’ dreams are being destroyed
because of the reprehensible behaviour of other athletes
and officials”.
IAAF president Lord Coe said “no politics” were involved in
the decision over Russia’s ban. He emphasised the
unanimous nature of the verdict and the international range
of council members.

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