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    In this Feb. 18, 2014 file photo, a Russian skating fan holds the country's national flag over the Olympic rings before the start of the men's 10,000-meter speedskating race at Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

    'Punishment Without Precedent': Olympic Ban on Russia Exceptionally Harsh

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    The International Association of Athletic Federation's ban of Russia's track and field team from the upcoming Rio Olympics over doping-related allegations is an unprecedented step, according to the New York Times.

    Russia's track and field team has been banned from taking part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF); the New York Times has called the ruling "an extraordinary punishment without precedent in Olympics history."

    The newspaper quoted the IAAF as saying on Friday that Russia allegedly failed to do enough in order "to restore global confidence in the integrity of its athletes."

    The New York Times said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to discuss the matter next week, saying that it "would be an unusual move" for IOC officials to amend the ruling against Russia.

    The newspaper recalled that Russia managed to win a total of 18 medals in track and field, including eight golds, during the last Summer Olympics in London.

    "But when the Rio Games begin on Aug. 5, no track and field athletes will compete under the Russian flag. Not even East Germany, which conducted a notorious doping scheme throughout the 1960s, '70s and 80s, faced such a penalty," it said.

    The newspaper quoted Stephanie Hightower, the president of US Track and Field, as saying that "we do not believe that every Russian athlete cheated."

    "It is unfortunate and regrettable that some may pay a penalty for the serious transgressions of their federation," she said.

    Referring to the Rio Games, the New York Times said that sending only those Russian athletes who have not been subjected to doping-related disciplinary action and petitioning to compete for a neutral team is "a policy that could prove controversial."

    The newspaper also specifically pointed to the fact that "in general, nations have been barred from the Olympics because of geopolitical considerations, not doping."

    As an example, the newspaper mentioned nations which were banned from the games following their loss in both world wars.

    Also, the New York Times singled out South Africa, which was kept out of the Olympics from 1964 to 1988 because of its apartheid policies, and Yugoslavia, which was barred from entering team events in 1992 following UN penalties over the war in the Balkans.

    On Friday, the IAAF announced a decision to uphold a ban on the Russian Athletics Federation, based on allegations that a number of Russian coaches and athletes do not follow anti-doping rules.

    In December 2014, the German channel ARD released a film titled "The Doping Secret: How Russia Creates Champions" on alleged doping abuse and corruption in Russian sports. The film was followed up by documentaries with further allegations. The Kremlin has fiercely denied these claims.

    Following the release of the film, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) launched an investigation into the allegations of doping abuse in Russian sports.

    In November 2015, WADA's Independent Commission issued a report accusing Russia of numerous breaches of global anti-doping regulations. The IAAF temporarily suspended the Russian Athletic Federation's membership as a result.


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