Blood tests
The Russian Athletics Federation has been accused of covering up a systemic doping culture Reuters

Russia has been provisionally suspended from athletics by the sport's governing body amid a doping scandal. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) sanction followed a damning report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which levelled allegations of state-sponsored doping against Russia.

Its members voted 22-1 to oust the Russian Athletics Federation (Araf) from the sport with immediate effect - nine months before the 2016 Olympic Games get underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

IAAF president Lord Coe said the suspension was the toughest sanction at the governing body's disposal and called the Wada report a "shameful wake-up call" for athletics. While the ban is in effect, Russian athletes will not be allowed to participate in any international competition and the country will also not be entitled to host the World Race Walking Team Championships and World Junior Championships next year.

The BBC quoted Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko as saying the suspension was "temporary" and the "problem is solvable".

Systemic cheating

"Today we have been dealing with the failure of Araf and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time," Lord Coe said in a statement.

"But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world. This has been a shameful wake-up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated. There can be no more important focus for our sport."

The Wada report alleged that Russian athletes, coaches, lab officials and administrators had colluded to cover up a systemic doping culture in the country that influenced results at major international competitions, including the 2012 London Olympics.

Russia was second only to the US in the track and field medal count in London with its athletes winning eight gold, four silver and five bronze medals.

Moscow has claimed that the allegations are politically motivated, although Mutko ruled out a general boycott of next year's Olympic games.

World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe backed the IAAF's decision

Frankie Fredericks of the IAAF Athletes Commission said: "The IAAF Athletes Commission is extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the recent developments and allegations directed at our sport.

"We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics and are united alongside our president to not shy away from the major challenges that face our sport. The athletes will work together to continue the process of cleaning up athletics to ensure those athletes training and competing cleanly are not tainted by the minority."