Russian athletes begin appealing Olympic track and field ban
MOSCOW (AP) — Two Russian athletes have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the IAAF’s ban on the Russian team competing in Olympic track and field.
The IAAF, track and field’s world governing body, on Friday upheld a suspension of the Russian team imposed in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread, state-sponsored doping.
Race-walkers Denis Nizhegorodov and Svetlana Vasilyeva argue that a ban of the entire team is unfair punishment.
Nizhegorodov, an Olympic silver medalist in 2004, says “competing at the Olympics is the main goal and main honor. We will get that right,” in comments on agent Andrei Mitkov‘s website.
“Now they want to take away my chance to compete at the Olympics, even though I haven’t done anything to cost me a place in Rio,” Vasilyeva said. “From bitter experience I understand that you can’t wait and hope for a good result, you have to act.”
Both athletes say they reject an IAAF measure that would allow some Russian athletes to compete under a neutral status, rather than the Russian flag, if they can show they are clean and have been tested regularly by a reputable testing authority outside Russia.
“I’m a citizen of Russia, a great sports power. I don’t agree with competing under the Olympic flag,” he said.
The appeal does not have the blessing of the Russian track and field federation, which says it has yet to receive the full text of the IAAF’s decision.
“No one at the federation has any connection to this,” spokeswoman Alla Glushchenko told The Associated Press in a text message. “We’ve started work with lawyers. In any case, you have to receive the official IAAF ruling and we don’t have it yet.”
Russian race-walking is among the events most seriously affected by doping. Russia voluntarily withdrew its walking team from last year’s world championship over doping concerns.
Nizhegorodov comes from a training center that has seen over 30 doping cases, including several for Olympic champions, and where senior officials have been banned for organizing drug use. He was threatened with losing his Olympic bronze from 2008 after a retest came back positive, but was cleared when the “B’’ sample did not correspond with the original finding.