The International Olympic Committee has unanimously backed the International Association of Athletics Federations' decision to ban Russian track and field athletes from this summers' Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, while some individual athletes could be allowed compete, providing they pass doping tests.
IOC president Thomas Bach announced that the body has agreed with the IAAF's decision to ban Russian athlete's from competing at the showpiece sports event. However, the IOC are prepared to permit individual athletes to compete at the games, providing they pass strict tests to prove they have not engaged in doping.
It has come as a relief to some of the country's top athletes, who had thought that their hopes of competing in Rio this summer were over - now knowing that they stand a chance of representing their country, under the Russian flag.
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The IAAF found a "deep-rooted culture of doping" in Russia; making it hard for the governing body to trust that the nation's athletes would be clean and provide fair competition to fellow athletes from other nations.
Fourteen of the 31 athletes found guilty of doping at the 2004 Olympic Games in Beijing were found to be Russian - with a majority of those athletes competing in track and field events - but the IAAF will have the final say on what - if any - Russian athletes can compete at this summer's games.
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It is a major coup for the doping-free Russian athletes who have dreamed of competing at the Olympics this summer, after the IAAF had originally suggested that the ban ruled out all Russian participation, unless they competed under a neutral flag.
However, Bach rebuffed any such possibility, insisting that Russia's Olympic Committee are the only body to be able to enter athletes for the Olympic Games, and was quick to point out that only the country's track and field federation are suspended.
“If there are athletes qualified, then they will compete as members of the team of the Russian Olympic Committee because only the national Olympic committee can enter athletes for the Olympic Games,” Bach told ABC News.
110-meter hurdles world champion, Sergey Shubenkov, admitted he was relieved by the announcement, saying: “This decision I can say, with 100 percent, it gives me optimism. A strong charge of optimism,”
Meanwhile, Russian long jumper Daria Krishna insists she was confident that, what she felt was, the right decision, would be made.
“They made a decision in the morning, and now some athletes can go to Rio. I was 100 percent sure that they would make a positive decision for us,” said Krishna.
But while the country's athletes are happy with the outcome, Russian officials have offered a more cautious reaction, as they are still unsure about how the country's athletes will qualify for Rio this summer, and have already threatened to take the IAAF to court, for what they believed was an unfair ruling.
A case-by-case decision will decide how many Russian athletes are still able compete at the games, despite the country's current doping crisis, while the head of Russia's track and field federation, Mikhail Butov, has appealed to the IOC for information on how their athlete's can qualify.
One IAAF official has admitted that he can't see more than a handful of Russian athletes passing the tests, with those hoping to compete this summer having to provide clean tests completed outside of Russia.
Rune Andersen, an investigator for IAAF, said: "There won’t be many athletes who manage to get through this crack in the door,”
The IOC's announcement has lifted the mood for Russian athletes, who had resigned themselves to not competing at the Olympics this summer, however, despite the governing body backing the IAAF's calls for a ban on the nation, they have now become hopeful they can compete, providing they can prove they are clean.
“Yesterday there were a lot more gloomy faces," Krishna admitted. "Today everyone is walking around with smiles.”
It is understood that a fair number of Russia's athletes are confident they can meet the conditions that will allow them to take to the stage in Rio this summer, while Russia's sports ministry released a statement saying it was "looking forward" to working with the body, “to determine how to access eligibility” to compete at the Olympics.
However, Russia's Olympic Committee and Athletics Federation are refusing to rule out a lawsuit, challenging the IAAF's ban.
Should Russia be allowed to compete at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro? Have your say in the comment box below.
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