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Russia track and field chief: Athletes should be ‘ashamed’ to want Russia out of Olympics

Dmitry Shlyakhtin

Newly-elected Russian Athletics Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. The Russian athletics federation elected a politically connected former coach as its new president Saturday as it tries to end the country’s suspension from Olympic track and field. Dmitry Shlyakhtin, a regional sports minister in the Samara region of central Russia, was elected unanimously after his main rival withdrew as part of a deal brokered by senior Russian officials. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)


MOSCOW (AP) -- Any athletes that want to keep Russians from competing at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro should be “ashamed,” the president of country’s track and field federation said Tuesday.

Dmitry Shlyakhtin was elected president of the track federation last month on a promise to fulfill IAAF demands for anti-doping reform in Russia. The country was banned from track and field in November when a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report detailed systematic, state-sponsored doping.

“To take away a strong opponent and then win, that’s the position of a weak person,” Shlyakhtin said when asked about those who oppose Russian inclusion in the Olympics. “Let them be ashamed if they do that, whether they win or they don’t win. It’s illegal, undeserved.”

Shlyakhtin also said he believes the IAAF will drag out its decision on Russia’s readmission and that July will be “the point of no return” for Olympic eligibility. Shlyakhtin met IAAF president Sebastian Coe on Feb. 12 for the first time since he was elected.

Last month, American athletes sent a letter to International Olympic Committee and WADA leaders urging an investigation of possible Russian doping in sports other than track and field.

Also Tuesday, Olympic steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova returned to competition following a doping ban for abnormal blood data, coming third in a 3,000-meter race at the Russian indoor nationals.

Zaripova’s time of 9 minutes, 1.20 seconds was almost seven seconds off her personal best for the event.

MORE: Coe: Kenya could be banned from Rio due to doping record