Russian officials confirmed Friday that the world athletics governing body IAAF had decided to uphold a ban on the country that would see its track and field team miss the Olympic Games in Rio.

“I can confirm, the suspension is upheld,” Mikhail Butov, general secretary of the Russian athletics federation, told TASS.

The IAAF Council, with 24 of the 27 members taking part, met in Vienna to vote on whether to readmit Russia, first banned in November after a bombshell report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission that said there was state-sponsored doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.

The IAAF is set to make an official statement later Friday.

Russia’s sports ministry slammed the decision by the IAAF and said it would mean that all its athletes were banned from the Rio Games.

“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 sports ministry said in a statement.

“Clean athletes’ dreams are being destroyed because of the reprehensible behaviour of other athletes and officials. They have sacrificed years of their lives striving to compete at the Olympics and now that sacrifice looks likely to be wasted,” the statement said.

The sports ministry said “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.”

Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS news agency that the decision had been “expected”.

Pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva lashed out at the IAAF and said that she would challenge the decision in court.

“This is a human rights violation. I will not remain silent, I will take measures,” TASS quoted the three-time Olympic medallist as saying.

“I will appeal to the human rights court,” she said, without specifying in which court she planned to challenge the ruling. – Agence France-Presse

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