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Russia's doping-ban appeal ahead of Rio Olympics got shut down

With just 15 days to go before the 2016 games kick off in Brazil, a sports court struck down Russia's appeal of a doping ban that could prevent all of its athletes from competing.

by Kayla Ruble
Jul 21 2016, 1:40pm

Gold medalist Elena Isinbayeva of Russia holds her national flag after the women's pole vault final in Istanbul in 2012. Photo by Dylan Martinez/Reuters.

It's looking increasingly likely that Russia could soon see its athletes banned from participating in every sport at this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, after a decision from a high sports court on shutting down the country's attempt to reverse a doping ban against its athletes.

With just 15 days to go before the 2016 games kick off in Brazil, the Court of Arbitration for Sport or CAS, headquartered in Switzerland, struck down Russia's appeal of the ban it was hit with last year after it was revealed that sports authorities there had been running a national doping program.

"CAS rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes," CAS said in a statement.

Thursday's ruling reinforced the initial ban that was issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), a move which effectively barred Russia's sports federation from competing.

While Russia claimed it had made efforts to improve the situation, IAAF upheld its decision in June, saying the country had not made enough headway in ramping up its efforts to combat the use of performance enhancing drugs.

The doping scandal was initially revealed in a German documentary in 2014, with the film's findings later validated by a 300-page report from the World Anti-Doping Agency in November 2015. That report detailed the rampant doping employed by Russian national athletes and coaches. The agency's report asserted that the performance-enhancing scheme was sponsored by the state.

Russia has argued that its athletes who have not been implicated in the doping scandal should not be barred from participating in the Olympic games this summer. In response to Thursday's tribunal ruling, government spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented the sweeping nature of the decision.

"I certainly regret such a decision by CAS which refers to absolutely all of our athletes," Peskov said.

After the latest decision and appeal rejection affirming the IAAF ban, the odds are low that Russian athletes will be competing in Rio in August.

"While we are thankful that our rules and our power to uphold our rules and the anti-doping code have been supported, this is not a day for triumphant statements," IAAF president Sebastian Coe told Reuters. "I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. It is our federation's instinctive desire to include, not exclude."


Reuters contributed to this report.