The Russian track and field team will not compete at the Rio Olympics after world athletics governing body upheld a ban imposed for state-supported doping.
The unprecedented decision was taken after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) heard a “deep-seated culture of doping” remained in Russia.
A handful of Russian athletes may be able to compete under a neutral flag if they can demonstrate they have lived and trained outside Russia, under a robust anti-doping system.
The IAAF believe this may apply to no more than four or five athletes, and is a necessary measure ensure the wider ban stands up to legal challenge.
IAAF President Lord Coe said: “While progress has been made Russian athletes cannot credibly return to competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors or the public.”
President Vladimir Putin said the IAAF’s decision to uphold the ban was “unjust and unfair” and he would seek the intervention of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee.
He has also insisted there was no state-sponsored doping in Russia.
The IAAF provisionally suspended Russia last November after a WADA report claimed there was a state-sponsored doping programme and corruption by sports officials.
In damning remarks, the IAAF governing body has claimed a “deep-seated culture of tolerance (or worse) for doping…appears not to have changed materially to date”.
And there was still not an effective anti-doping infrastructure capable of detecting and deterring doping, it added.
The organisation cited “partly substantiated” allegations that Russian authorities have “orchestrated systematic doping and the covering up of adverse analytical findings”.
But the IAAF also claimed some athletes should be able to apply to compete internationally as neutrals if they can “convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country”.
And also “subject to other, effective anti-doping systems, including effective drug-testing.”
The IAAF added any athlete who has made an “extraordinary contribution to the fight against doping in sport” should also be able to apply for such permission.
It said Yuliya Stepanova’s case should be “considered favourably”. Formerly Yuliya Rusanova, she was a Russian doping cheat who turned whistleblower and helped uncover the doping problem in her country.
Meeting in Vienna on Friday, IAAF officials voted against readmitting Russia because the nation has not met the reinstatement conditions.
A task force has been studying Russian measures to reform its anti-doping programme.
But this week, a new WADA report revealed hundreds of attempts to carry out drug tests on Russian athletes between February and May this year had been thwarted.
And drug testers faced intimidation and threats from armed Russian security forces while athletes continued to evade doping control officers.
The Russian ministry of sport said it was “extremely disappointed” by the IAAF decision and claimed “clean athletes’ dreams are being destroyed because of the reprehensible behaviour of other athletes and officials”.
Pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva said she would challenge the move in court.
“This is a human rights violation. I will not remain silent, I will take measures,” the two-time Olympic champion told the TASS news agency.
In its attempt to overturn the ban in time for its athletes to compete in Rio, Russia had announced a raft of reforms including the introduction of compulsory anti-doping classes in schools.
The International Olympic Committee will meet next week to consider the implications of the decision amid suggestions it may consider altering its rules to allow the Russian team to compete.
Lord Coe will resist any such move and said he would fight to ensure the IAAF retains the final say over eligibility for the Games.