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Rio Snub: Russia Fails 2016 Olympic Test

Russian track and field athletes’ chances of taking part in the Rio Olympics took a further nosedive yesterday when the International Olymp...

Russian track and field athletes’ chances of taking part in the Rio Olympics took a further nosedive yesterday when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) came out in support of the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) decision to uphold the country’s athletics suspension.

In a statement released yesterday, the IOC said it “fully respects” the ruling.

The statement further read that “the eligibility of athletes in any international competition, including the Olympic Games, is a matter for the respective international federation”.
Russian Athletes Can Only Compete as Independent 

South African-based IOC committee member Dr Sam Ramsamy told City Press: “Russia has had it coming since last year, as they ignored all warnings to adhere to Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) regulations.

“The IAAF is well within their rights and is correct in suspending them.” Ramsamy said “clean” and “innocent” athletes would be eligible to compete, but not under the Russian flag, only as “independent” athletes.

“The IOC is not in the business of punishing clean athletes, but to protect them from unfair competition,” said the Durban-based veteran sports administrator.

The UK’s Guardian yesterday reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had reacted publicly for the first time at a press conference. He was quoted as saying: “Of course that is unjust and unfair.

“There are universally recognised principles of law and one of them is that the responsibility should be always personified – if some of the members of your family have committed a crime, would it be fair to hold all the members of the family liable, including you? That is not how it’s done.

“The people who have nothing to do with violations, why should they suffer for those who committed the violations? That actually does not go into the framework of civilised behaviour.”

He went further: “I hope that we will be able to find some solution here, but of course that does not mean we are going to be offended and say we are not going to fight doping. No. We will make the doping fight fiercer.

“What is considered to be doping? Doping is medicine that gives you advantage in competing. Meldonium does not give this advantage – it just keeps your heart muscle healthy during the extreme loads, and for many years it was not considered to be doping.

“But everyone has known that meldonium was invented in the territory of the Soviet Union; it was taken only by athletes from Eastern European countries – everyone knew that well.”

All this follows Friday’s IAAF decision to uphold the suspension of Russian track and field athletes taken in November.

The decision means they will be ineligible to partake at the Rio Games in August.

Also, the city of Rio de Janeiro on Friday announced an “economic state of emergency” with acting governor Francisco Dornelles saying a “serious economic crisis” could lead to Rio not being able to meet all its obligations with regards to the Games.

The city is covering most of the expenses while the Brazilian government is responsible for transport and policing, among other things.

The country’s acting president, Michel Temer, has promised financial aid. According to the Brazilians, the cause of the crisis is a shortage in tax from especially the oil industry. In addition, the Brazilian economy is currently experiencing a serious recession.

Wada had been the first to welcome the IAAF’s decision to uphold the suspension imposed on the Russian federation last November after a comprehensive investigation by the anti-doping body laid bare the extensive use of prohibited substances by athletes.

There was allegedly also a large-scale cover-up of this fact. Wada also found there was great government support for the practice and even the Russian secret service was allegedly involved.

The Putin government strongly denied the allegations. Wada president Craig Reedie said in a statement that there has been “no cultural change” among Russian athletes since the Russian federation’s suspension last year.

“This is a very strong message from the IAAF to other sports,” said Reedie. The Russian federation had to prove to the IAAF that it had introduced major reforms against the use of banned substances before its suspension would be lifted. 

In its latest report, Wada found that “significant headway” had been made, but that the “deep-seated culture” of approval of the use of banned substances still existed in Russia. - Online Sources 

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