In what the New York Times calls "an extraordinary punishment that might be without precedent in Olympics history," the Russian track and field team has been banned from competition at the Summer Olympics. Seven months ago, the World Anti-Doping Agency published a scathing report accusing Russia of a doping scheme involving the government, law enforcement, athletes and coaches, and even doctors, a lab, and Russia's anti-doping agency. Since then, the nation's track and field athletes have been suspended from international competition; Russian authorities did not fight that suspension, though Russia has denied the allegations. The IAAF, track and field's global governing body, made the decision about the Rio Games Friday. USA Today says it will almost certainly be challenged, naming one pole vaulter who has threatened to file a discrimination case.
Russian officials had volunteered to send only athletes who had never been disciplined for drug use. But, per a source familiar with the IAAF's decision, officials say Russia hasn't done enough to convince the world its athletes are clean. The International Olympic Committee will discuss the IAAF's decision next week, but the Times says it would be unusual for the IOC to amend the ruling. Whistleblowers have alleged that Russia's doping scheme has allowed athletes to appear clean even when they're not. Before the IAAF's vote Friday, Russia's sports minister released an open letter insisting that the country was fighting doping and noting that UK authorities recently conducted independent testing of Russian athletes. But WADA had earlier alleged that many Russian athletes evaded that testing and that Russian officials threatened the testing authorities. (Read more sports doping stories.)