Russia Fights Track And Field Doping Ban; Options Dwindle Before Rio Olympics

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Russia’s track and field athletes are running out of time to clear their names.

The International Association of Athletics Federations decided to uphold Russia’s ban from track and field events on Friday in Vienna, according to Sky News and The BBC. Russia is accused of widespread doping in an effor to win at all costs, and the IAAF determined Russia hasn’t met the conditions for re-entry into international competition. The decision prevents Russia’s track and field athletes from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IAAF suspended Russia in November following the release of a World Anti-Doping Agency report, which accuses the country of systematically doping athletes for at least the last seven years. A former top Russian doctor admitted to The New York Times in May that he participated in the widespread doping scheme, helping athletes cheat to success at both the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Russia’s sports ministry has denied the allegations. It defended itself again Friday, claiming the IAAF is punishing Russian athletes who didn’t cheat.

“Clean athletes’ dreams are being destroyed because of the reprehensible behaviour of other athletes and officials,” Russia’s sports ministry said in a statement. “They have sacrificed years of their lives striving to compete at the Olympics and now that sacrifice looks likely to be wasted.”

“… We have nothing to hide and feel we had met the IAAF’s conditions for re-entry.”

Russia calls on the International Olympic Committe to rescind the IAAF ban at a meeting Tuesday in Lusanne, Switzerland and allow athletes who aren’t suspected of doping to compete at Rio 2016.

?We now appeal to the members of the International Olympic Committee to not only consider the impact that our athletes? exclusion will have on their dreams and the people of Russia,? sports minister Vitaly Mutko said, accoding to the Washington Post. ?but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by their absence. The Games are supposed to be a source of unity, and we hope that they remain as a way of bringing people together.?

Russia also can appeal the IAAF suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But time isn’t on the Russians’ side, as track and field events at the 2016 Summer Olympics will begin Aug. 12.

Thumbnail photo via Matt Kryger/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Aug 11, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Elena Lashmanova (RUS) celebrates after winning the women's 20km race walk during the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports
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