Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, July, 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr.)
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Russia was facing calls to be kicked out of the Olympics Thursday after their highly-regarded track and field squad lost their appeal over being banned from Rio for state-sponsored doping.The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling on the athletics team is seen as a key indicator as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) debates whether to order a blanket ban on Russia from the Rio Games that start August 5 . Fourteen national anti-doping agencies, including the United States, Canada and Germany, sent a joint letter to IOC President Thomas Bach Thursday calling on him to ban Russia from Rio.Russia is a sporting powerhouse whose absence from Rio would create the biggest crisis in decades for the Olympic movement.Russia has denied any state involvement in the doping crisis.The CAS ruling has been the focus of Olympic attention since an independent WADA report this week said Russia ran a "state-dictated failsafe system" of drug cheating in 30 sports at the 2014 Sochi Games and other major events.The IAAF suspended Russia in November after an inquiry which first spoke of "state-sponsored" doping.
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