Lehmann’s Australia contract extended
THE international sports tribunal raced yesterday to decide on appeals by Russian athletes against their ban from the Rio Olympics, with the opening ceremony now just three days away.
Swimmer Yulia Efimova and wrestler Viktor Lebidev registered appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) taking the total number of Russian challenges to International Olympic Committee sanctions to four, with more still possible.
Cases involving swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev, who won medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, were to be completed yesterday when the hearing of Efimova, who took bronze in the 200m breaststroke in London, was set to begin.
Seven Russian swimmers were banned from Rio by FINA after the IOC ordered sporting federations to exclude any Russian competitors implicated in an investigation into Russia’s doping scandals by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.
McLaren’s report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said there was a state-organised doping scheme in Russia, with the secret service helping the sports ministry to manipulate samples.
At least 117 of the 387 competitors Russia planned to send to Rio have been excluded.
There have been subsequent recriminations over who is to blame for the huge doping controversy, which was revealed in a Geman television documentary in 2014 and is now casting a shadow over the Rio Games.
IOC president Thomas Bach rejected suggestions at a press conference that the chaos represented a “huge failure” for the IOC.
“The IOC is not responsible for the timing of the McLaren report,” he said in a veiled attack on WADA, which first began receiving information from Russian anti-doping agency whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov in 2010.
Bach pointed out that the IOC was not responsible for the accreditation or supervision of anti-doping laboratories in Russia. But he insisted the doping scandal would not taint Rio.
Three IOC executive members have been named to make a final decision on which Russian athletes will compete in Rio once the individual federations have made their lists.
The IOC said the Russian team will be finalised before the opening ceremony at the Rio Olympic stadium on August 5.
The Rio Games has also faced criticism over the state of the athletes’ village and the readiness of venues (see related stories, page 23).
Bach said that following his arrival on July 28 he went straight to the athletes village to see the conditions where hundreds of plumbers have been working on water pipes following complaints from some teams.
Meanwhile, a metro line linking the centre of Rio to the Olympic zone opened yesterday, but it will only be used by athletes and Olympic officials because not enough full scale tests have been carried out.
The metro passes by Guanabara Bay, in the shadow of Rio’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain where the sailing events will be held. Daily pollution tests on the water are still being held while special boats are hauling out debris that flows in from Rio.
“There will be, as always be some last-minute challenges,” said the IOC leader.
He added that the Brazilian authorities had acted quickly in recent months and “we are more confident than ever that we will have a great Olympic Games a la Brazil”.
The Games, with an estimated 10,500 athletes, begins on August 5 and will end on the 21st. – CRICKET Australia announced yestrerday it has extended the contract of head coach Darren Lehmann until October 2019 to keep him in place during the next Ashes series and world cup.
Lehmann’s contract was due to expire in June next year. CA said it has been extended to cover the 2017-18 Ashes series in Australia and the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
Since Lehmann’s appointment in 2013, he has taken Australia’s Test and one-day teams to the top world ranking, won a home Ashes series 5-0, beat South Africa in a Test series away from home and won last year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.
“2019 is such a big year for Australian cricket and we wanted certainty and stability for the playing group, with both the coach and assistant coach contracted, as we build towards the Ashes series and the 2019 World Cup,” CA’s executive general manager Pat Howard said in a statement.
“Darren has had great success in the role and he and the national selection panel deserve a huge amount of credit for taking a relatively young side to number one in the world in two of the three formats.
“The commitment he shows to the role goes far broader than that of the Australian men’s team and extends into the global support of the game through his work on the ICC Cricket Committee.”
Lehmann said he was looking forward to the challenges.
“I am incredibly grateful for the support and faith the Cricket Australia Board and the players have put in me,” he said.
“I absolutely love doing this job and as far as I am concerned it is the best job in the world.
“There is still a lot I would like to achieve in the time I have left and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, especially with an upcoming Test series in India and a home Ashes series.”
Russia’s Vera Rebrik competes in the women’s javelin throw final at “Stars of 2016”, a track and field meet held by Russia’s athletics federation on July 28 for athletes banned from the Rio Olympics.