The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday (21 July) has rejected appeals against the ban of 68 Russian track and field athletes ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Russia was suspended from all track and field events in November 2015 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following widespread accusations of a culture of state-sponsored doping.

Russia's Olympic Committee took its case to CAS in an attempt to clear athletes not accused of doping violations, but the court has decided the full ban will stand.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is currently deciding whether to impose a blanket ban on all Russian competitors at this summer's Games, which commence on 5 August.

The governing body announced on Wednesday they would explore "legal options" before announcing its decision in the next week.

The IAAF meanwhile has praised CAS's decision for creating a "level playing field for athletes."

Russia
Russia's 2016 Olympic Games hopes are now in tatters following the CAS rulingMark Thompson/Getty

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said: "While we are thankful that our rules and our power to uphold our rules and the anti-doping code have been supported, this is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing.

"It is our federation's instinctive desire to include, not exclude. Beyond Rio the IAAF Taskforce will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition."

In response to CAS's verdict, a statement from The Kremlin has slammed the decision to ban all athletes, insisting the "principle of collective responsibility is hardly acceptable."

Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dimitry Peskov told reporters: "We are speaking here about field and track athletes, who had been preparing hard for the Olympics, who have nothing to do with doping, who have nothing to do with none of accusations and suspicions, who had regularly been tested by foreign anti-doping agencies," Russian news agency TASS report.

"We can only express our deep regret. Our relevant agencies will analyse the situation quickly and efficiently."