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Russian athletes remain 'banned' as Olympics loom

The world's athletics federation, the IAAF, has ruled to keep Russia out of the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil over alleged state-sponsored doping. Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to fight the ruling.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has upheld its ban on Russia's track and field team, potentially keeping Russian competitors out of the this summer's Olympic Games in Rio. The decision was unanimous, IAAF chief Sebastian Coe told reporters in Vienna.

Russia has shown some progress in fighting doping, but "not enough," Coe said.

Individual Russian athletes not tainted by doping can apply to compete in Rio as "neutral athletes," but not under the Russian flag, the organization said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the decision as "unfair," adding that Russia does not accept "collective punishment" for all athletes.

"Clean athletes shouldn't suffer," he said during a late round-table meeting with foreign media on Friday.

"I'm assuming that we'll have a discussion with our colleagues in the World Anti-Doping Agency and I hope a reaction from the International Olympic Committee," Putin added.

The IAAF said it was hard to find clean competitors "because the system in Russia has been tainted by the doping from the top level and down," said IAAF task force leader Rune Andersen.

The Russian Sports Ministry said it was "extremely disappointed" by the move, and that it had fulfilled all conditions for the ban to be lifted.

Russia was first suspended in November in response to a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In it, the organization accused Russian institutions of state-sponsored doping. Moscow has pledged to step up its anti-doping efforts, with a special IAAF task force monitoring the reforms.

Earlier this week, however, WADA published another report claiming that Moscow

helped athletes evade doping tests.

Russia allegedly canceled or declined 736 tests between mid-February and late May.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) can still overrule Friday's decision at a special meeting next week.

Responding to the Friday ban, Russia's Sports Ministry urged IOC to "not only consider the impact that our athletes' exclusion will have on their dreams and the people of Russia, but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by
their absence."

Putin rejects state involvement

Putin also said he hopes to talk with WADA and the IOC to overturn the decision ahead of the Rio games.

"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 said late on Friday.

Earlier Friday, Putin had denied accusations that top officials covered up positive doping tests.

"There isn't and cannot be any support on the government level of violations in sport," he said.

Watch video 01:16

IOC reacts to Russia doping charges

Russia is already facing trouble over fan violence at the Euro 2016 in football championship France. After a week of clashes, French authorities decided to expel 20 fans, angering the Kremlin.

Coe under doubt

IAAF President Sebastian Coe came under fire ahead of the Vienna vote, when British media accused him of knowing about a specific doping case and misleading the public. According to the BBC, Coe was informed about Russian marathon runner Lilya Shobukhova failing a doping test but denied this knowledge before a parliamentary committee.

Shobukhova was allegedly required to pay a bribe to cover up the results.

Coe also enlisted help in securing his election as the IAAF head from the son of his disgraced predecessor Lamine Diack, the reports claim. The IAAF leader, also a member of the House of Lords in the UK, has denied any wrongdoing.

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