Update: Russia says final decision on Olympic ban expected Sunday

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MOSCOW (AP) - UPDATE 7/20/2016 2:44 PM

Russia's top Olympic official expects a final decision by Sunday on whether the entire Russian team will be banned from next month's games in Rio de Janeiro over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

The International Olympic Committee said its executive board will meet via teleconference on Sunday to consider the issue, but added that a final decision was expected "within the next seven days."

The IOC is examining the legal options of a blanket ban following a report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren that accused Russia's sports ministry of overseeing doping of the country's Olympic athletes.

"The issue will be finally resolved by the end of this week, probably on Sunday," Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said Wednesday at a meeting of the ROC.

Zhukov said his committee did not discuss the McLaren report at its meeting, although he also did not rule out legal action if Russia is hit with a total ban from the games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport will issue its verdict Thursday on Russia's appeal to overturn the IAAF ban on its track and field athletes for the games. The IOC will take that ruling into account before making its own decision.

Zhukov said he was hopeful of winning the appeal, adding that Russia's plans for the Olympics assumed the track and field team would be allowed to compete. Russia plans to send a total of 387 athletes, including 68 in track and field, he said.

"Of course we hope for a CAS ruling in our favor," Zhukov told state TV. "It would be, I'd say, a serious precedent for the other federations' decisions."

Regardless of how the various doping-related cases turn out, Zhukov said a Russian Olympic boycott was out of the question.

"These boycotts just lead to a breakup of the Olympic movement," he said. "I think that Russia will never take part in any boycott."

The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, retaliating for the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow that followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said a meeting between Putin and Russia's Olympic athletes, previously scheduled for Thursday, would no longer take place.

The IOC executive board held a meeting by teleconference on Tuesday to consider its steps in the wake of the McLaren report, which found that 28 summer and winter Olympic sports were affected by state-operated cheating in Russia.

WADA and other anti-doping officials urged the IOC to consider the unprecedented step of excluding the entire Russian team from the Rio Games.

The IOC said it "will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice."

The IOC also started disciplinary action against Russian sports ministry officials and others implicated in McLaren's report, and said they would be denied accreditation for the Rio Games. The list includes Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

The IOC can also let individual international federations decide to ban Russians in their own sports.

The international rowing federation said Wednesday it was investigating whether Russian rowers' places at the Rio Olympics could be reallocated to athletes from other countries "if there would be a blanket ban on the Russian team or any other ban."

Russia has five rowing crews entered for the Olympics after a sixth crew was disqualified earlier this month for a doping violation in qualifying.

World Rowing also said it "is undertaking a complete review of testing of Russian rowers since 2011" and has asked WADA for any evidence related to doping by Russian rowers. The McLaren report alleged 11 failed drug tests in rowing had been covered up by Russian officials.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency applauded Friday's decision from the IAAF.

Travis Tygart calls the banning of the Russian track team "the right outcome" and a sign that the world's athletes demanding clean competition are being heard.

He says he thought long and hard about the pleas of Russian athletes who claim they are clean but could lose out on their chance to compete in Rio de Janeiro.

Tygart says "at the end of the day ... you hope they use this opportunity to stand up against the people in their country who've caused them this harm, and ensure it doesn't happen again."

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7:48 p.m.

There was no immediate IAAF decision on German amputee long jumper Markus Rehm's bid to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe says Rehm still has to prove that his prosthetic doesn't give him an unfair advantage. Rehm is a Paralympic champion and wants to compete in the regular program at the Rio Games.

Rehm commissioned a study last month and it was inconclusive. Rehm is a right-leg amputee.

Coe says "Rehm still has to prove that the prosthetic doesn't give him an unfair advantage and he has not been able to show that."

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7:25 p.m.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says it is "absurd" for the IAAF to allow individual Russians to compete as neutral athletes while the country's track and field team remains suspended.

The IAAF upheld Russia's ban from international track and field, imposed in November because of widespread doping. But Rune Andersen, the head of the IAAF's Russia task force, said there was a "very tiny crack in the door" for Russians to compete if they had been subject to a reliable drug-testing regime outside Russia.

Mutko says the plan is "somewhat absurd" in comments to Russian agency R-Sport. He also claimed that all Russian athletes should be eligible for that special dispensation because foreign anti-doping organizations have overseen drug testing in the country in recent months.

That, Mukto says, put Russians "outside the system" of tainted Russian organizations.

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7:10 p.m.

The president of European Athletics says he fully supports the IAAF's decision to uphold Russia's ban from international track and field, including the Olympics.

Svein Arne Hansen, who also sits on the IAAF Council, says in a statement that he believes Russia has made some progress toward reforms after it was banned in November, but "more needs to be done before athletes and the public around the world can have 100 percent confidence" that Russians are subject to the same rigorous checks as athletes from other countries.

Hansen says the IAAF vote was "taken in an atmosphere of extreme pressure" and "is the clearest possible signal of the IAAF's commitment to the values of our sport."

He also says Russian athletes will be barred from next month's European championships.

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7:08 p.m.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun applauded the IAAF decision to ban the Russian track and field team from Rio de Janeiro Games.

Blackmun says "today's ruling is a step in the right direction. It gives a measure of hope to clean athletes that there are consequences not only for athletes who dope, but for countries which do not engage seriously in the fight against doping. That is a much-needed message."

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7:05 p.m.

The IOC says it has "taken note" of the IAAF decision to uphold its ban on Russian athletes for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee says its executive board will meet by teleconference on Saturday to "discuss the next appropriate steps."

The IOC has already scheduled a summit of sports leaders next Tuesday to address "the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice."

IAAF President Sebastian Coe stressed Friday that his federation has the final say on eligibility of track and field athletes for the games, not the IOC.

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7:04 p.m.

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva says the IAAF decision to uphold the country's doping ban will make the Olympics similar to those in 1980 and 1984, when there were mass boycotts.

Isinbayeva, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, says in a statement that "a lot of (IAAF officials) were in similar situations in 1980 and 1984 when the United States and the USSR boycotted the Olympic Games."

She says "now I am in this situation."

The United States and other western countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest at Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union and many of its allies refused to compete at the Olympics in Los Angeles four years later.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe won gold in the 1,500 meters at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, competing under the Olympic flag in 1980 because Britain was officially part of the boycott.

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7 p.m.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe says today was bound to be a sad day no matter what decision the IAAF made.

He also says IAAF leaders can't worry about how many athletes compete in the Olympics, only how many clean athletes line up.

Coe says "there's a humanity here that tells you, very simply, that this was not an easy decision or lightly taken."

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6:40 p.m.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe says his federation, not the International Olympic Committee, decides who competes in the Olympic track meet.

Rune Andersen, the head of the IAAF task force, spoke about the difficulty of picking out who really is a "clean" athlete in Russia.

"Because the system in Russia has been tainted by doping from the top level down, we cannot trust that what we call 'clean' athletes really are clean," Andersen said.

He says the IAAF has left a "very tiny crack in the door" for a Russian athlete to compete at the Olympics as an independent. But they would have to prove they were subject to a reliable drug-testing regime run outside of Russia.

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6:30 p.m.

The chairs of the IOC Athlete Commission and the WADA Athlete Committee have released a joint statement about the IAAF's decision on Russia, saying they "commend and support" the move.

IOC athlete chair Claudia Bokel and WADA athlete chair Beckie Scott say they will "hold this decision as symbolic that the voices of the clean athletes have been heard."

"We recognize that this decision is only one step in the process of ensuring that the Rio Olympic Games will have a level playing field," Bokel and Scott said. "But, we are heartened to see that the facts as presented by WADA and the IAAF task force have been considered thoroughly, and that the evidence has lead the IAAF to make decisions based on integrity - maintaining clean sport as a central policy."

They added that they speak for athletes globally who want to ensure that the Olympics remain a place where politics does not trump principle.

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6:25 p.m.

The task force in charge of overseeing anti-doping reforms in Russia has recommended that whistleblower Yulia Stepanova be allowed to compete at the Olympics as an independent athlete.

Along with her husband, Stepanova gave information that led to a broad investigation of doping inside Russia.

The 800-meter runner has asked to be able to compete at the Olympics and the IAAF task force recommended she be allowed to because of the "extraordinary contribution" she made to the anti-doping effort.

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6:10 p.m.

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva says she will sue after the IAAF upheld the country's ban from international track and field competition.

Isinbayeva tells Russia's Tass agency the decision is "a breach of human rights," adding that she will follow through on an earlier plan to take the case to "a court of human rights."

It was not immediately clear which court she meant.

If Russia is barred from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 34-year-old Isinbayeva says of the Russian national track and field championships, which start Monday, that "this competition could be the final one in my career."

Isinbayeva won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, and bronze in 2012.

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6:02 p.m.

The chairman of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee has sought to portray Russia's ban from Olympic track and field as political.

Alexei Pushkov, who is known for his strident takes on hot-button political issues, says on Twitter that "the Rio Games ban for our track and field team is an act of political revenge against Russia for its independent foreign policy."

He says it is "a triumph of anger over sports."

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5:53 p.m.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says the IAAF decision to uphold the country's ban from track and field was "expected."

The ruling means the Russians will likely need special dispensation from the International Olympic Committee for its track and field athletes to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Earlier Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he rejected the idea of "collective responsibility" in doping cases and said the Russian state had never supported doping by any athletes.

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5:38 p.m.

The Russian Sports Ministry says it is "extremely disappointed" that the IAAF has ruled to uphold its ban on the country's track and field athletes competing in international competitions, including the Olympics.

The ministry says Russia had done "everything possible" to be readmitted following its ban in November.

The ministry adds "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, but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by their absence."

The IOC meets Tuesday and could overrule the IAAF ban by allowing members of the Russian team to compete.

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3:40 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says clean athletes should not be punished because others have been caught doping.

Putin was speaking before track and field's world governing body decides on whether to allow Russia to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Putin says "there cannot be collective responsibility for all athletes or athletes of one federation if someone has been caught doping."

The IAAF will decide Friday in Vienna whether to uphold or lift the suspension of Russia's track and field federation.

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3:10 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says the Russian government has never been and "cannot be" involved in organizing doping.

A German documentary aired this month suggested that Russian officials, including the sports minister, were involved in concealing positive doping tests of Russian athletes.

Putin flatly denied the accusation on Friday, saying the government "cannot be involved."

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1:40 p.m.

A German official who helped investigate doping in Russia has been appointed as the World Anti-Doping Agency's director of intelligence and investigations.

Gunter Younger has been serving as head of the cybercrime division in Bavaria. WADA says he will start his new role in Montreal on Oct. 3.

Younger was a member of the independent WADA commission that uncovered widespread doping in Russian track and field. The panel's report led to Russia's suspension by the IAAF.

Incoming WADA director general Olivier Niggli says Younger's "rich pedigree in the world of law enforcement will bring tremendous value to clean sport and, as a result, clean athletes worldwide."

Younger also had previous roles with Europol and Interpol.

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12:55 p.m.

A British lawmaker says IAAF President Sebastian Coe is facing "very, very disturbing" allegations about his knowledge of Russia's doping problems.

Jesse Norman, who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport select committee in Britain's House of Commons, says Coe must answer further questions.

"I'd say it's almost certain we'll want to have Lord Coe back in front of the committee. I don't want to get too far ahead of where the committee is going to be, but these are very serious matters," Norman told the BBC.

The BBC's Panorama program and the Daily Mail reported allegations Friday that Coe was aware of details of a Russian doping corruption case four months before it became public, and that he enlisted support for his presidential campaign from Papa Massata Diack, son of disgraced former IAAF President Lamine Diack.

Coe, who was a vice president of the IAAF at the time, denied any wrongdoing. He said the email was forwarded to the ethics commission and that he did not mislead the select committee when he appeared in December.

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11:25 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says Russia is committed to eradicating doping and punishing those who are responsible.

Dmitry Peskov spoke Friday as the IAAF was to decide whether to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The IAAF's ruling council convened in Vienna to consider whether to uphold or lift the suspension of Russia's track and field federation.

Asked by reporters if Russia is preparing a legal response to the potential ban, Peskov says "we are doing everything we can in order to protect our athletes and will continue to do so."

Asked if Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko could be fired if the country's athletes are barred from the Olympics, Peskov says "it's not expedient to link this with the sports minister."

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11:20 a.m.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has written an open letter aimed at persuading the IAAF to allow his country's track and field athletes to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IAAF will decide later Friday whether to readmit Russia, which was suspended in November following a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report detailing systematic, state-sponsored doping.

Mutko writes that Russia has reformed its anti-doping system and that a ban from Rio for the entire track team would be unfair collective punishment for a problem which also exists in other countries.

He adds that "Russia has done everything that IAAF independent commission has rightly asked of us in order to be reinstated to athletic competition."

Mutko does not address a new report Wednesday from WADA which said drug testers faced continued obstruction in Russia.

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11:10 a.m.

Track and field's world governing body is meeting to decide whether to allow Russian track and field athletes to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The IAAF's ruling council convened in Vienna on Friday to consider whether to uphold or lift the suspension of Russia's track and field federation.

The ban was imposed in November following a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency commission that alleged state-sponsored doping, cover-ups and corruption.

Russian officials claim they have met the conditions for reinstatement, but a new WADA report issued Wednesday cited continuing obstruction and violations of drug-testing in Russia.

Even if the IAAF decides to maintain the ban on the Russian federation, it could also consider a compromise that would allow individual athletes with a proven clean doping record to compete in the games.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

6/17/2016 2:20:58 PM (GMT -4:00)



 
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