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Court Of Arbitration Upholds Ban On Russian Track And Field Athletes


Russia lost another round today in its fight to have a full national team at next month's Olympics in Rio. The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Russia's appeal to lift a ban on 68 track and field athletes. That ban followed allegations the Russian government helped its athletes cheat and covered up their drug use. Now the International Olympic Committee must decide if the entire Russian team will miss the games.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Lawyers for the 68 athletes argued that they were clean and shouldn't be penalized for the actions of those who used performance enhancing drugs. But the court also had to weigh the claim that the Russian government had carried out a systematic doping campaign potentially tainting anyone who was part of the Russian sports system.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia regrets the court's decision to reject the athletes' appeal.

DMITRY PESKOV: (Foreign language spoken).

FLINTOFF: Peskov said it's not acceptable to hold all track and field athletes responsible, especially those who have nothing to do with doping. He pointed out that the British anti-doping agency has been supervising drug testing for athletes in Russia after Russia's own lab lost its accreditation. What he didn't mention was that the British testers have been complaining that many Russian athletes evaded or cancelled their drug tests, sometimes with the support of sports officials.

Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko also insisted that his country has tried to comply with international demands.

VITALY MUTKO: (Foreign language spoken).

FLINTOFF: Mutko said that all the officials who were named as perpetrators in the latest investigation have been suspended. What he didn't mention was that the report linked him to the doping scheme and he still has his job. One thing that Mutko did make clear...

MUTKO: (Foreign language spoken).

FLINTOFF: He said that, "we will never agree that the government had a policy of covering up doping or that the results were manipulated at the Winter Olympics in Sochi." This morning, Russia named the nearly 400 athletes it plans to send to Rio. Sixty-eight of those athletes must now be crossed off the list.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to decide by Sunday whether the rest of Russia's team should also be banned. Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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