The world governing body for athletics (IAAF) today announced that it has upheld the suspension of the Russian athletics federation ahead of the Rio Olympics for its participation in nationwide, state sponsored doping. The Russian athletics federation did not meet reinstatement conditions set out by the IAAF.
The International Olympic Committee has scheduled a meeting for next Tuesday that could potentially allow for individual athletes to compete in Rio despite the entire Russian federation being suspended from international competition.
Some of Canada’s brightest stars responded to the news today with the following comments to Canadian Running.
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot – Pan Am Games bronze medallist
“In my mind, definitely a good thing and a step in the right direction for clean sport. The battle with doping has to be on all fronts, and if we punish athletes who use banned performance-enhancing substances, we should also be able to punish coaches, governments or organizations that take part in a cheating culture.”
Krista DuChene – One of two women with the Canadian marathon standard
“As a parent, I can say that if we don’t appropriately discipline our children when they do wrong, there is a good chance the behaviour will be repeated.
“When there was talk of this some time ago around our dinner table, my son said, ‘Mom, this gives you a better chance of a medal.'”
Chris Winter – World championship qualifier
“I feel strongly that only by the IAAF taking a firm stance against doping and the athletes, coaches, agents, and countries that are implicated can we, as a sport, hope to see change. Historically the punishment has never met the crime and as a result, clean athletes have continued to lose out to drugs cheats. I firmly believe that we need to ban those nations that support doping and see lifetime bans for the athletes convicted of doping.
“While I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we can know for certain that every athlete is 100 per cent clean, I hope that in the future, the next generation of athletes will have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field and to achieve great things without drugs.”
Evan Dunfee – Pan Am Games champion
“I think it is very poignant that yesterday in Australia, Jared Tallent received his gold medal from London 2012, four years after losing out to a Russian drug cheat. This decision today goes a long way in ensuring that we don’t have to right the same wrongs four years from now. Russia is clearly not the only doping problem country for the IAAF and nor is athletics the only doping problem for Russia and I think this stands to show what can happen when a thorough, independent investigation is carried out. Hopefully moving forward countries can help WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] with more funding so that they can carry out more of these investigations to root out all of the doping problems in sport. It is a long road ahead but we are on the right track and today clean athletes can rejoice.
“For me personally this means that I can stand on the start line in Rio with a much cleaner (still some non-Russian-related offenders though) field, and much greater confidence in chasing my life long dream of standing on that Olympic podium.”
Geneviève Lalonde – 3,000m steeplechase national record holder
“I think it is a step in the right direction. It doesn’t take back what has already been done, and by no means fixes the problem. I shouldn’t have to be proud to be a clean athlete, that should just be the way things are. I do applaud the culture Athletics Canada and athletes in Canada have created: We are able to take a stance, voice our opinions and honestly just do what is right.”
Hilary Stellingwerff – 2012 Olympian
“I’m relieved to see the right decision actually being made. We still have to wait on how IOC will deal with this or if an appeal will result in over-turning the decision. But for right now, this helps restore my faith in the IAAF. Honestly, if they had allowed Russia to compete in Rio it would have made me question if IAAF even cared about clean athletes and, if selected for Team Canada, I would have found it difficult to compete in Rio. I’m not delusional to think this cleans up our doping problem in athletics, we still have work to do and Russia is not the only culprit in doping, but at least this sets a precedent and hopefully sends a strong message to other athletes and federations who cheat.”
Mohammed Ahmed – 5,000m national record holder
“I support and applaud the decision by the IAAF to ban the Russian athletics team from the Rio Games, now let’s hope the IOC does the right thing and upholds this decision. As we’ve learned from the circumstances that have brought us here, the cost benefit analysis is skewed in such a way that promotes doping in sport. That being said, extreme measures need to be taken to restore the confidence of clean athletes in the system and regain the trust of the public in athletics. This ban hopefully serves as a warning to those engaged in subverting and sabotaging the system that there are consequences for your actions and acts as a deterrent to individuals and federations.”
Lanni Marchant – Marathon national record holder
“I think it is awesome that the IAAF is holding true to the goal of “clean sport” and I think it was amazing the message Rob Guy sent out on behalf of Canada. I will wait to see if the IOC ultimately upholds the decision. We all want a clean Olympics (and a clean sport) and I hope that decisions like the one rendered today continue to demonstrate that it is a shared desire amongst athletes, NSO and all governing bodies.”