Russia Appeals Against Suspension At Rio Olympics

Russia has filed a formal appeal against the suspension of its track and field team that would have kept it out of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

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Konstantin Vybornov, a spokesman for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), confirmed the appeal had been filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. ROC legal department head Alexandra Brilliantova said the Olympic application deadline "will be extended" to let Russian athletes apply if Russia wins. The case is being brought jointly by the ROC and dozens of top Russian athletes. The appeal will be heard on July 19.

In November, the IAAF, track's world governing body, suspended Russia after a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency detailed widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field. The IAAF has allowed a small number of Russians to compete at the Rio Olympics if they can show they are subject to testing from a respected, non-Russian anti-doping agency and have been based outside the country. But, ROC legal department head said she believed only two Russians would currently fit the criteria out of more than 80 who have applied to the world governing body of athletics. The athletes are likely to be Italy-based pole vaulter Alyona Lutkovskaya and U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina, who is a two-time European indoor champion.

The IAAF has already approved an application from Russian athlete and doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova. The testimony by Yulia doping within the Russian team, including undercover footage of apparent doping confessions, formed an integral part of the evidence against Russia in the WADA investigation.

There have been conflicting views within Russia after the IAAF announced suspension of country's track and field team. Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko defended by saying doping is prevalent worldwide and the presence of a few dopers does not mean all Russian athletes are doping. Mutko termed the ban on Russia as “absurd”. In a statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Sport, the ministry said it firmly rejects the allegation that it has failed to take the necessary steps to reform its anti-doping operations. The statement further reads that we understand that tackling doping is a huge challenge that will take time and significant change across Russia but we are working tirelessly towards long-term reform.

Russian three-time Olympic silver medalist Tatyana Firova has argued that athletes should be able to take banned substances. Tatyana said they would not be able to achieve high results without them. The 33-year-old, who recently failed a re-examined drugs test from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, argued that “bureaucrats” must share responsibility for the doping scandal.

Russia banned six weightlifters and a judo fighter. Five-time Russian weightlifting champion Aminat Maskhadova and 2014 European junior silver medalist Yegor Ivanov were banned for eight years. Nadezhda Ovchinnikova, the 2014 European champion, has been banned for two years and Larisa Kobeleva, the 2014 world junior champion, has been suspended for four years. The 2015 Russian judo champion, Pyotr Khachirov, has received a four-year suspension.

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