The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted Friday to suspend Russia indefinitely from track-and-field competition. The ban takes effect just days after a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report detailed evidence of systemic, state-sponsored doping among Russian athletes.
Russian track-and-field athletes will be barred from participating in international events, potentially including the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, until Russian officials demonstrate compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s standards. This is the first time the IAAF has banned an entire country from competition over doping violations.
“Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF [All-Russia Athletic Federation] and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a statement, according to the BBC.
An independent panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency led by Canadian attorney Dick Pound found Russian athletes, coaches and government officials were all involved in efforts to circumvent international doping guidelines. The report described how Russia’s anti-doping laboratory destroyed more than 1,400 athlete test samples before a key event while Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, purportedly infiltrated anti-doping efforts before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Top Russian agencies and officials, including Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, are accused of complicity in the scandal.
After the report was published, the anti-doping agency recommended the IAAF ban Russian track-and-field athletes from international competition and stripped Russia's anti-doping lab of its accreditation. Russia has since pulled the lab's government funding.
— Intl. Business Times (@IBTimes) November 12, 2015
Russian government officials, including Mutko and President Vladimir Putin, had called on the IAAF to sanction individuals found guilty of doping violations rather than impose a total ban on all Russian track-and-field athletes. Putin pledged Russia’s commitment to international sports this week and ordered an internal investigation into the doping allegations.
“We prepared for broad cooperation,” Mutko told Russian media, according to the Associated Press, adding Russia asked the anti-doping agency to provide guidelines on how the country can establish compliance with its standards. Russia will not boycott the 2016 Summer Olympics even if its track-and-field athletes are banned from participation, Mutko said earlier this week.