Russia's Rio hopes at stake as IAAF votes

Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:33am EDT
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By Shadia Nasralla and Dmitry Solovyov

VIENNA/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday it was ready to do everything from a legal point of view to defend Russian athletes if they are banned from taking part in the Rio Olympics over doping allegations.

The Kremlin staked out its position as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) met in Vienna to rule on whether Russia had done enough for a ban on its athletes competing in international competitions to be overturned.

Russia was suspended from all track and field by the IAAF in November after an independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed widespread state-sponsored doping. A task force has been studying how much reform Russia has made.

"Obviously, everything possible needed to defend the rights of our athletes and the Olympic team is being done and will be done at a legal level," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

"But at the same time, there is comprehensive cooperation with the relevant international organizations and their divisions which is underway. This is a purposeful policy line ordered by the president of Russia – in anti-doping fighting and in investigating those known cases of suspected doping use," he said.

The vote by the IAAF should in theory be decisive but the International Olympic Committee (IOC), concerned about innocent athletes being punished, has said it might yet overrule when it meets the following week.

In an open letter to IAAF president Sebastian Coe, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Russia had met all the conditions asked of it, including overhauling its disgraced athletics association and introducing additional testing for athletes before the Rio Games.

"Clean athletes who have dedicated years of their lives to training and who never sought to gain unfair advantage through doping should not be punished for the past actions of other individuals," Mutko wrote.   Continued...

A man casts his shadow following a press conference by Sebastian Coe, IAAF's President, as part of the 203nd International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council meeting  in Monaco, March 11, 2016.   REUTERS/Eric Gaillard