IAAF PRESIDENT: Lord Sebastian Coe
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Russian track and field athletes will remain banned from the Olympics following claims the country ran a state-sponsored doping programme.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and 68 Russian athletes attempted to overturn the suspension, implemented by the body that governs world athletics.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) has ruled it can stand.

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A handful of Russian athletes ‘could still compete’ as neutrals at the Rio Games, which start on 5 August.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it was ‘pleased Cas has supported its position’, adding that the judgment had ‘created a level playing field for athletes’.

IAAF president Lord Coe added: “This is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing.

“Beyond Rio, the IAAF taskforce will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition.”

Separately, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering calls to ban all Russian competitors across all sports from the Rio Games following a second report into state-sponsored doping.

Some Russians athletes could compete in Rio as neutrals if they meet a number of criteria, including being repeatedly tested outside their homeland.

WHISTLEBLOWER: Yuliya Stepanova of Russia
WHISTLEBLOWER: Yuliya Stepanova of Russia

At least two – 800m runner and doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova and US-based long jumper Darya Klishina – have gone down that path.

Now the Cas ruling has cleared the way for more to follow.

Cas said the ROC could still nominate athletes to compete as neutrals. However, there appears to be little time for athletes to comply with the criteria.

Russia was suspended from global track and field events by the IAAF in November 2015.

That followed the publication of an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report that showed a culture of widespread, state-sponsored doping.

IN TROUBLE? Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko
IN TROUBLE? Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko

Sports minister Vitaly Mutko apologised for Russia’s failure to catch the cheats but stopped short of admitting the scandal had been state-sponsored.

However, another Wada-commissioned report delivered earlier this week- the MaClaren Report- contained more damaging allegations and suggested senior figures in Russia’s sports ministry were complicit in an organised cover-up.

The report implicated the majority of Olympic sports in the cover-up and claimed that Russian secret service agents were involved in swapping positive urine samples for clean ones.

Following Monday’s publication McLaren report, the IOC faced calls to ban all Russian competitors from the 2016 Olympics.

It held an emergency meeting on Tuesday but said it would wait for Thursday’s judgment from Cas before announcing any sanctions.

The IOC is expected to hold a second emergency meeting on Sunday.

The Russian authorities have already suggested that they will look at ways to continue legal action.

Following the ruling, sports minister Mutko said Cas had set ‘a certain precedent’ by punishing a collective group for doping offences by individuals.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added: “The principle of collective responsibility cannot be acceptable. The news is not very good.”

London 2012 pole-vault gold medallist Yelena Isinbayeva – one of the 68 to appeal to Cas – said the ruling was ‘a blatant political order’.

“Thank you all for this funeral for athletics,” she said.