Russia's athletics team will be barred from competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, after failing to convince the sport's governing body it had sufficiently dealt with doping amongst its athletes.
The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has refused to lift the suspension imposed on Russia following revelations of a state-sponsored doping programme.
Earlier this week the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said its officers had often been unable to secure tests from some athletes, been subject to evasive tactics — including one athlete who literally ran away from testers — and intimidation from security services.
Between November and May, 52 Russian athletes tested positive, including 49 for meldonium — the substance which Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova was banned for two years for using.
Russian athletes who can demonstrate they are clean may be handed a reprieve from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who meet in Lausanne to discuss the issue next Tuesday. Others may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for sport.
“We are extremely disappointed by the IAAF’s decision to uphold the ban on all of our track and field athletes, creating the unprecedented situation of a whole nation’s track and field athletes being banned from the Olympics," the Russian sports ministry said in a statement.
“We now appeal to the members of the International Olympic Committee 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.
"The Games are supposed to be a source of unity, and we hope that they remain as a way of bringing people together.”
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko made a last-gasp attempt to persuade IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe and the 27-man council with an open letter, arguing that Russia had reformed its anti-doping programme by agreeing to take independent testing from UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) and that it should not be singled out "for a problem that is widely acknowledged to go far beyond our country's borders".