Monday 23 October 2017

Russians poised for Rio reprieve after red tape mix-up

Canadian law professor Richard McLaren Photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Canadian law professor Richard McLaren Photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

Ben Rumsby

Plans to throw scores of Russians out of the Olympics began to unravel shambolically yesterday after sports federations were ordered to lift bans imposed on athletes cited in a damning report into state-sponsored doping in the country.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a notice to governing bodies asking them urgently to reassess the suspensions of Russians under their jurisdiction following the revelation they had misinterpreted eligibility criteria laid down by its executive board.

Federations had been told by the IOC last week to expel any Russian implicated in a World Anti-Doping Agency-funded investigation, led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, which found Russia guilty of swapping dirty doping samples for clean ones.

Several governing bodies did so after being provided with the names of those involved, leading to bans on around 50 Russians on top of the 67 thrown out in track and field. But it's understood some misinterpreted the information about which athletes were found to have had positive tests covered up.

The findings indicate the "disappearing positive methodology" referred to in the report had four levels of seriousness - one of which would not be enough to convict someone of being a drugs cheat.

The fact some federations failed to make this distinction further undermined the credibility of the admissions criteria laid down by the IOC following its refusal to impose a blanket ban on the rogue nation.

World Sailing yesterday announced a reversal of its decision to expel Pavel Sozykin, one of Russia's seven-strong sailing team for the Games. The move followed a similar about-turn by the International Swimming Federation on the participation of Nikita Lobintsev and Vladimir Morozov, two of the seven Russians it had expelled.

More reversals were expected before tomorrow's opening ceremony, although the decision to expel 17 Russian rowers has already been ratified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), while it is understood the International Cycling Union (UCI) is content with the six suspensions it imposed.

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