Russia has lost its appeal against a ban on its track and field athletes competing at the Rio Olympics.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal by 68 Russian track and field athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federation following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.
Its ruling could influence whether the entire Russian Olympic team is banned from the Games.
The three-member panel issued its verdict two days after the appeal hearing, without giving detailed reasons for its decision. But the court said its reasons should be “issued as soon as possible”.
That is likely to happen before the International Olympic Committee executive board discusses on Sunday whether to impose a blanket ban on all Russian teams from the Olympics, which begin next month.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said the decision to ban his country’s athletes from Rio was “political”.
He told the Tass news agency that Russia will now consider further action, as he condemned the verdict as unfair.
“In my view, it’s a subjective decision, somewhat political and one with no legal basis,” he said.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow regrets the court’s decision.
Dmitry Peskov added that applying “collective responsibility (to all athletes) can hardly be acceptable”.
However Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt said the ban will “scare a lot of people” who may be thinking about doping.
The six-time Olympic champion said the ban and the decision to reject Russia’s appeal against it, will “send a strong message”.
He added that recent action against doping taken by authorities shows that “if you cheat or if you go against the rules”, then “serious action” will be taken.
Double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva said that the verdict was “the funeral of track and field” and also dismissed it as politically motivated.
Earlier this week, a second major investigation funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed that Russia’s doping was run by the country’s Ministry of Sport, facilitated by the secret service and encompassed almost every Olympic and Paralympic discipline.