Sports

Russia hopes

Embattled country says clean athletes should be allowed to compete in Rio

Russia insisted yesterday that it expects to avoid a blanket ban from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on its competitors at the Rio Olympics, despite its track and field squad losing an appeal over a suspension for state-sponsored doping.

"All sportsmen who have not been convicted or are not under suspicion of doping should have the right to compete," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"That is the decision we are counting on."

The IOC's executive board are to hold a conference call tomorrow to discuss banning Russia from the Rio Games starting on Aug 5.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday ruled against Russia's athletes in a decision seen as a key indicator, as the IOC debates whether to kick out the whole Russian team.

The IOC is facing international pressure to act tough on Russia and ban the entire team over bombshell revelations of a state-run doping system that has seen the country cheat its way to victory.

Fourteen national anti-doping agencies including the United States, Canada and Germany sent a joint letter to IOC president Thomas Bach on Thursday urging him to ban Russia from Rio.

Officials in Moscow have slammed the decision by the CAS to reject its appeal against a ban from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), calling it part of a broader political campaign by the West against Russia.

The suspension of the track and field team already means that star athletes like pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and hurdler Sergey Shubenkov will not be in Rio.

Isinbayeva vowed to stop training if the IOC imposes a blanket ban on Russians competing at Rio and hinted at a new legal challenge.

"If the International Olympic Committee refuses to allow Russian competitors to go to the Olympics, I don't see any point any more in continuing training," Isinbayeva said in an online video on social networking site VK, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.

"Many people say I look so good that I can go for another Olympic cycle. But no, I'm already 34, and I will choose my family," Isinbayeva said.

The two-time Olympic champion said that she planned to launch a legal appeal.

"There is some point in lodging an appeal as an individual to complain against the CAS decision," she said.

"If this is upheld, to go further to the international court of human rights, to prove there that I was not involved (in doping).

"For me, it will be a question of principle and it's already not in any way linked to participating in the Games in Rio, since there won't be time for that to happen," she said.

CLINGING ON

Sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who has clung on despite the scandal, said Moscow now hopes the IOC will defer to individual international sporting federations to decide whether other Russian squads can compete.

The CAS ruling has been the focus of Olympic attention since an independent World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) report this week said Russia ran a "state-dictated fail-safe system" of drug cheating in 30 sports at the 2014 Sochi Games and other major events.

But Russia has found support from some international sports bodies, with the International Judo Federation (IJF) insisting all clean athletes should be allowed to take part in Rio.

"We hope that by allowing participation of Russian athletes in Rio 2016, we will send out a positive message to all the young people who deserve to be given examples of friendship instead of examples of Cold War," said IJF president Marius Vizer.

Individual Russian federations said they were now looking nervously ahead for the IOC to make its next move.

"We're all in suspense waiting for the IOC decision," wrestling federation president Mikhail Mamiashvili told AFP. "I hope that the common sense and personal responsibility of those who will take the decision will prevail."

Meanwhile, the IOC announced yesterday that 45 athletes have failed dope tests after their samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games were re-analysed.

The results are from a second wave of re-tests and take the total number of athletes who tested positive for prohibited substances to 98, the IOC added in a statement.

Of the 45 failed tests announced yesterday, 30 were from Beijing, including 23 medallists, and 15 were from London.

The IOC did not say if any of the London athletes had won medals.

"The new re-analysis once again shows the commitment of the IOC in the fight against doping," IOC president Bach said. - Wire Services.

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