Russia's Track and Field Team Has Been Banned from the Rio Olympics
Unable to gain back the trust of the Olympic officials after a doping scandal emerged, athletes have been officially barred from competing in the Summer Games.
As the Summer Olympic Games in Rio loom closer (the opening ceremony kicks off in just 2.5 weeks!), there's more bad news for Russian athletes; reports of government-ordered doping for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics has been confirmed by a two-month study commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia's former antidoping lab director, claimed he doped dozens of athletes before the 2014 Winter Olympics. How'd they get away with it? Rodchenkov said they figured out how to open and reseal supposedly "tamper-proof bottles" used for storing urine samples so the tainted urine could be replaced with "clean" samples, according to the BBC. The WADA study concluded that there's proof the state-run doping program was executed before and after the Sochi games, as reported by the New York Times.
So what does this mean for Rio? The International Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they'll decide on Tuesday how the new findings will impact the 2016 Summer Olympics, but that Russia's actions are, "a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games."
BTW, this isn't the first we've heard about doping in Russian sports; all eyes have been on Russia since the doping scandal surrounding the country's Olympic athletes first became international news a few months ago. The official decision on their Rio status has been laid down: Russia's entire track and field team has been barred from the Olympic Games this summer, reports The New York Times.
The announcement comes from track and field's global governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who explained that "Russia had not done enough to restore global confidence in the integrity of its athletes," and because of that the IAAF decided not to lift the current ban on Russian competitors for the Rio Games.
Quick refresher: Russian athletes have been suspended from all international track and field events for the past seven months after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a 300-plus page report implicating athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors, and state officials in an elaborate government-run doping program. As The New York Times reported, members of Russia's secret service have already gone to great lengths to protect their dirty little secret. They have intimidated workers at a drug-testing lab to cover up top athletes' positive results, impersonated lab engineers during the Winter Olympics in Sochi last year, and even destroyed lab samples. The lengthy report also revealed that athletes used false identities to avoid testing, bribed anti-doping authorities, and routinely submitted bogus urine samples.
Last fall's report recommended that Russia be barred from track and field events at the Rio Olympic Games if the Russian government didn't impose radical improvements. And despite efforts from the Russian government to convince officials they've improved anti-doping efforts and regain the trust of the international community, a WADA report released just this week revealed that Russian athletes have continued to avoid drug testing, with one athlete even going so far as to hide a container of clean urine inside her body.
Under the current ban, even athletes without past drug violations would be barred from competition, however, the IAAF has also stated that if individual Russian athletes can convincingly show they are not tainted by doping, they can apply to compete as a 'neutral athlete'.
While it's predicted that the IAFF's decision will be upheld, the International Olympic Committee, the ultimate authority when it comes to everything Olympics, is set to discuss the decision on Tuesday, including the possibility of granting exemptions for individual athletes.