Friday 28 October 2016

WADA cancel Rio press conference as Russia doping crisis rumbles on

Published 01/08/2016 | 14:26

WADA investigator Richard McLaren revealed the extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia (AP)
WADA investigator Richard McLaren revealed the extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia (AP)

The World Anti-Doping Agency has cancelled its scheduled Rio 2016 pre-Games press conference to avoid it being overshadowed by the ongoing Russian doping crisis.

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The WADA press conference had been due to take place at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park at 1530 local time on Thursday, a day before the Games opening ceremony.

President Craig Reedie, director general Olivier Niggli and independent observer team chair Jonathan Taylor were due to have appeared before the media.

WADA spokesman Ben Nichols confirmed to Press Association Sport that the press conference had been cancelled.

"Given current events, we believed that our press conference - which was to focus on WADA's Independent Observer and Athlete Outreach programs - would be overshadowed by other matters," he said.

WADA came in for criticism from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Sunday for failing to act more quickly on evidence of widespread doping in Russia provided by whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova.

Bach said the IOC was not responsible for the timing of the WADA-commissioned McLaren report and could therefore not be held responsible for the scramble to assess the eligibility of Russian athletes to compete in Rio 2016 just days before the Games are due to start.

The International Association of Athletics Federations imposed its own ban on the Russian track and field team and more than 100 Russian athletes across all sports have so far been excluded from the Games.

The IOC asked international federations to make their own rulings on Russian athlete eligibility for Rio 2016 and has set up an independent IOC panel to give a final decision on eligibility.

Over 250 athletes have been declared eligible by the federations and some Russian athletes have filed appeals against their bans.

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