Rio de Janeiro: A ban on all Russian weightlifters dealt a new blow to the country’s image ahead of an International Olympic Committee meeting Saturday that will be dominated by multiple doping scandals.
New criticism of the athletes’ village in Rio added to the dark clouds hanging over the Games which start in one week. The International Weightlifting Federation banned all eight Russian contenders — five men and three women — entered for Rio. About 117 Russian competitors from the 387 initially put forward by the Russian Olympic Committee have now been banned from the Games. They include 67 track and field athletes.
Weightlifting’s reputation “has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians, therefore an appropriate sanction was applied in order to preserve the status of the sport,” the IWF said.
“We would like to highlight the extremely shocking and disappointing statistics regarding the Russian weightlifters.” Among those banned, Artem Okulov is a world champion while Ruslan Albegov took a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games and Tatiana Kashirina a silver.
The IOC has taken fierce criticism for not ordering a blanket ban on Russia after an independent report said there was state-organised doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The IOC executive is to meet on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the crisis. The full IOC meets from Monday. Meanwhile in Moscow, Russia’s sports minister said on Saturday that the national team to compete in the Rio Olympics starting next week so far has 266 competitors, although decisions were still pending on several athletes.
“As of this morning I can say that we will represent 29 disciplines out of 34, with 266 people,” minister Vitaly Mutko said in an interview with sports channel Match-TV.
Besides 67 track and field athletes banned by the IAAF over revelations of a state-run doping scheme, dozens more have been told not to compete in Brazil, including swimmers, rowers, and wrestlers.