Russia’s Efi­mova first to ap­peal Rio ban

The Myanmar Times - - Olympics -

RUS­SIAN swim­mer Yu­lia Efi­mova be­came the first ath­lete to an­nounce she would ap­peal against her ban from next month’s Rio Games over dop­ing on July 25. Thir­teen in­di­vid­ual Rus­sian ath­letes have so far been ex­cluded from the Rio Games – seven swim­mers, two weightlifters, a wrestler and three row­ers – af­ter the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee de­clined to is­sue a blan­ket ban.

In one of the most mo­men­tous moves in its long, che­quered his­tory, the IOC left it to each in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tion to de­cide if Rus­sians could take part af­ter they were ac­cused of state-spon­sored dop­ing.

The de­ci­sion, which came af­ter the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency un­cov­ered ev­i­dence of a wide­spread, govern­ment-backed drugs cheat­ing sys­tem in Russia, di­vided world sport and drew ac­cu­sa­tions Olympic chiefs were “spine­less”.

Swim­ming gov­ern­ing body FINA banned seven Rus­sian swim­mers on July 25, mak­ing it the first in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tion to im­pose sanc­tions in light of Sun­day’s IOC de­ci­sion.

Vladimir Moro­zov and Nikita Lobint­sev, both 4x100m freestyle bronze-medal win­ners with the Rus­sian team at the 2012 Olympics, and Efi­mova, another 2012 Olympic bronze medal­list, were among the seven banned.

Efi­mova, 24, a four-time world breast­stroke cham­pion, whose pro­vi­sional ban for test­ing pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium was over­turned by FINA in May, will ap­peal to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS), her agent An­drei Mitkov told R-Sport news agency.

Other in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tions now face a race against the clock with the open­ing cer­e­mony only 11 days away, global sport sharply di­vided and some Rus­sian com­peti­tors al­ready in Brazil.

Russia has been rocked by dop­ing scan­dals that saw its track and field team banned from com­pe­ti­tion, in­clud­ing Rio, and sparked calls led by WADA for all Rus­sians to be barred un­til they cleaned up.

Olympic chiefs had been un­der pres­sure to hit Russia with the hard­est sanc­tions pos­si­ble to pun­ish state-run dop­ing that was laid bare a week ago in a re­port by Cana­dian law pro­fes­sor Richard McLaren.

It re­vealed wide-rang­ing Rus­sian dop­ing in Olympic events from 2011 and in­clud­ing the Sochi Games in 2014, where the secret service used a hole drilled in a wall to swap the dirty sam­ples of dop­ing com­peti­tors for clean ones.

Four-time Olympic row­ing cham­pion Matthew Pin­sent led a ca­coph­ony of Bri­tish con­dem­na­tion. “IOC has passed the buck – pure and sim­ple,” he wrote in The Times.

De­fend­ing Olympic long jump cham­pion Greg Ruther­ford also weighed in, telling The Guardian news­pa­per, “[The IOC’s de­ci­sion] is a spine­less at­tempt to ap­pear as the nice guy to both sides.”

The Aus­tralian govern­ment warned that a “sus­pi­cion of com­pro­mised in­tegrity” now hung over the Games and New Zealand’s anti-dop­ing body lamented “a black day for clean ath­letes”.

Canada’s anti-dop­ing chief Paul Melia called the de­ci­sion dis­heart­en­ing and US anti-dop­ing chiefs blasted the IOC for cre­at­ing “a con­fus­ing mess”, al­though the coun­try’s Olympic com­mit­tee is­sued a more mea­sured re­sponse.

“The con­cept of in­di­vid­ual jus­tice must be ap­plied for the ben­e­fit of the ath­letes who com­pete against state­spon­sored dop­ing sys­tems,” it said.

Russia, how­ever, greeted the de­ci­sion as “pos­i­tive”, with Krem­lin spokesper­son Dmitry Peskov telling re­porters, “We wel­come the main de­ci­sion, which al­lows so-called clean ath­letes to take part in the Olympic Games.”

Dmitry Svishchev, who heads the lower house of Rus­sian par­lia­ment’s sports and phys­i­cal cul­ture com­mit­tee, told AFP the IOC de­ci­sion was “not bad”.

But he railed against the fact that Rus­sian ath­letes who served dop­ing bans in the past would be barred from Rio un­der the new IOC cri­te­ria, es­pe­cially when drug cheats from other coun­tries who had served their sus­pen­sions were al­lowed to go.

“You can’t pun­ish twice for the same thing,” Svishchev said.

Russia’s gym­nas­tics team – the first group of Rus­sian ath­letes to ar­rive in Rio – are al­ready train­ing, coach Valentina Ro­di­o­nenko told R-Sport, say­ing “the worst is be­hind us”.

Most Rus­sian com­peti­tors will fly out to­mor­row, al­though it re­mains to be seen how many will ac­tu­ally take part in the Games.

The fo­cus will now be on the Olympic sports to let in Rus­sians who they be­lieve are drug-free.

Zhukov said that weightlifters Anas­ta­sia Ro­manova and Ta­tiana Kashi­rina – who won sil­ver at the 2012 Games – and freestyle wrestler Vik­tor Lebe­dev would not com­pete in Rio in light of the IOC’s cri­te­ria, R-Sport re­ported.

The World Archery Fed­er­a­tion quickly de­clared that three Rus­sians who had never tested pos­i­tive for banned sub­stances would be al­lowed to com­pete in Rio.

Russia’s fenc­ing and pen­tathlon fed­er­a­tions have ex­pressed con­fi­dence that ath­letes in their re­spec­tive sports will also take part, but were still await­ing of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from the re­spec­tive fed­er­a­tions. –

Photo: AFP

Yuliya Efi­mova pre­pares for the fi­nal of the women’s 50-me­tre breast-stroke at the FINA World Cham­pi­onships in Kazan, Russia, on Au­gust 9, 2015.

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