IOC backs track federation on Russia ban

  Yelena Isinbayeva with a Russian flag at a hockey game during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  The two-time Olympic pole vault champion calls the ban on Russian track and field athletes a human rights violation.  (Getty Images)

Yelena Isinbayeva with a Russian flag at a hockey game during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  The two-time Olympic pole vault champion calls the ban on Russian track and field athletes a human rights violation.  (Getty Images)

The international track and field federation (IAAF) closed the door Friday on having a Russian track team at the Rio Olympics because of the country's deep-seated doping problems.

The International Olympic Committee has seemingly locked it.

In a Saturday statement following its executive board teleconference, the IOC said "it fully respects the IAAF position," adding that "the eligibility of athletes in any competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective international federation."

No national team in any sport ever has been barred from the Olympics for doping.

The IOC has a Tuesday summit at its Lausanne, Switzerland headquarters, for which it had announced plans to discuss the issue of "collective responsibility and individual justice."

Given Saturday's statement, however, it seems unlikely the IOC will seek to modify the IAAF decision to extend the ban on Russian track and field athletes from the Rio Olympics and other international competitions.  The IAAF's action came after after an IAAF Taskforce declared Russia's doping problems were "top down."

That means Russia's only recourse to fight the Olympic ban will be in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, reacted to the IOC statement by telling the Russian news agency R-Sport, "Judging by the statement, our athletes have no chance." 

Expecting lawsuits, the IAAF also decided to leave a small opening for some Russian athletes to compete in Rio as "neutrals" (no national affiliation) if they can "clearly and convincingly show they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country and subject to other, effective anti-doping systems, including effective drug testing."

Rune Andersen, who headed the IAAF Taskforce, said at a Friday press conference that the opening was a "very tiny crack...there won't be many athletes who manage to get through."

Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva told the Russian news agency Tass she would take the case to a "human rights court" if necessary.  Even that might not be enough to get Isinbayeva to Rio, as she has yet to meet the Olympic qualifying standard, having not competed since 2013.

Although evidence shows track and field is not the only Russian sport affected by what looks like a rebirth of the state-sponsored doping system from the Soviet era, it is unlikely the IOC would bar all Russian athletes from competing in Rio.

The IOC has said Tuesday's summit would also address eligibility of athletes in countries where the national anti-doping organization has been declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.  Atop that list is Kenya, beset by dozens of doping positives that included some of its top distance runners.