Russian track and field athletes banned from Rio Games

ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP) — Russia's track and field athletes will be banned from competing for their country at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a landmark decision Friday that punished the sports powerhouse for a systematic doping system that operated "from the top down" and tainted the entire team.

In an unprecedented ruling loaded with geopolitical ramifications, the IAAF upheld its ban on Russia's track and field federation, saying the country had made some progress in cleaning up but failed to meet the requirements for reinstatement and would be barred from sending its athletes to the Rio Games that begin in 50 days.

"Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.

President Vladimir Putin condemned the decision as "unfair," telling a meeting of leaders of major international news agencies in St. Petersburg that athletes who compete without doping "shouldn't suffer."

Russia does not accept "collective punishment" for all athletes, he said, comparing the ban for the entire team to a prison sentence that "an entire family" could get if one of its relatives has committed a crime.

"I hope we will find some solution here, but it does not mean that we will get offended and stop battling doping. On the contrary, we will intensify our fight on doping," Putin added.

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