IAAF president Seb Coe has banned Russia from international competition.

By SI Wire
November 13, 2015

The International Association of Athletics Federation and president Seb Coe have suspended Russia from international competition by a 22-1 vote by IAAF council members.

Russia is the first country to be suspended by the IAAF for its doping violations. The suspension is set to begin immediately and would bar Russian athletes from competition until the country can prove it has improved its anti-doping system and can comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code. Athletes could miss next March’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland as well as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which are slated to begin on Aug. 5.

“This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated,” Coe said. “To this end, the IAAF, WADA the member federations and athletes need to look closely at ourselves, our cultures and out processes to identify where failures exist and be tough in our determination to fix them and rebuild trust in our sport. There can be no more important focus for our sport.”

On Monday, the WADA released the findings of an Independent Committee’s review into performance enhancing doping in Russian sports, and recommended that the IOC ban the country, along with five coaches and five athletes from international competition. On Friday, the WADA panel found Russia's anti-doping agency to be non-compliant.

Among the five suspended athletes are 2012 Olympic 800-meter bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova, 400-meter and 800-meter runner Anastasiya Bazdyreva, 2012 Olympic 800-meter champion Mariya Savinova, 1,500-meter runner Kristina Ugarova and 800-meter runner Tatjana Myazina.

The IAAF Athletes Commission issued the following statement:

"The IAAF Athletes' Commission is extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the recent developments and allegations directed at our sport.

We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics and are united alongside our President to not shy away from the major challenges that face our sport. the athletes will work together to continue the process of cleaning up athletics to ensure those athletes training and competing cleanly are not tainted by the minority. 

We send a clear message to clean athletes in a dirty system to report any doping or cheating that they see or hear about. We are 100% in support of President Coe and believe that he is the leader that our sports needs to instigate the necessary actions swiftly and strongly."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for action and said his country would do everything in its power to eradicate doping.

“This problem does not exist only in Russia, but if our foreign colleagues have questions, we must answer them,” Putin said on Wednesday.

Vitaly Mutko, the Russian sports minister, initially denied the allegations from WADA and fired at British drug testers for “worse” drug testing during the 2012 Olympics. Mutko also said that even if Russia’s track and field team was banned, the country has no intention of boycotting next summer’s Olympics. On Friday, Mutko said WADA president Craig Reedie has provided Russia with clear instructions to find common ground with international organizations and will do so.

“If we need to fire everyone, we will do that, but I will find common ground and cooperate,” Mutko told the Associated Press on Friday.

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Friday’s decision by the IAAF has removed several Russian cities will not serve as a host to IAAF in 2016. Moscow will host the Russian Winter indoor meet in February, Cheboksary will host the IAAF Race Walking World Championships in May and the IAAF World Junior Championships will take place in Kazan in July.

Russian athletes will be able to participate in domestic competition and are still expected to comply with the IAAF's anti-doping rules and out of competition testing. 

Russia finished fourth on the 2012 Olympic country standings with 82 medals, 18 of which were won on the track. At the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia won 17 medals, seven of which were gold. Most recently, Russia faded to ninth on the medal table with just four medals.

Russian Olympic medalist Yuliya Zaripova (women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase) and race-walkers Sergey Kirdyapkin, Olga Kaniskina and Valeriy Borchin have all tested positive and been suspended for doping in the past year.​ Racewalking coach Viktor Chegin, who oversaw the training of several of the banned athletes, resigned in July amid allegations.

The IOC has asked for the IAAF to open disciplinary cases against the Russian athletes named in the WADA report, which could lead to the stripping of Olympic medals. If Savinova and Poistogova are stripped of their Olympic medals from 2012, South Africa’s Caster Semenya would be upgraded from silver to gold, Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo would move from fourth place to second place for silver and Alysia Montaño of the United States would move from fifth place to third place and receive a bronze medal.

Montaño could also receive a silver medal from the 2010 world indoor championships as well as bronze medals from the 2011 and 2013 world outdoor championships with finishes behind Savinova at those respective global championships.

“I want retribution and justice,” Montaño told SI on Monday. “I want [Savinova and Poistogova] with lifetime bans. Anyone within that scope and in that report should get lifetime bans. I want to see my hardware – all of them.”

- Christopher Chavez

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