MOSCOW: Russia has named the team of 68 athletes it plans to send to next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro . . . if its ban from international competition by the IAAF is lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport within the next fortnight.
The team announced by the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) include several stars who would be leading medal contenders in Rio. Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, world 110-metre hurdles champion Sergei Shubenkov, and Olympic high jump gold medallist Ivan Ukhov are all included.
However the 68 athletes also included a triple jumper in former world indoor champion Yekaterina Koneva who was banned from athletics for doping from 2007 to 2009.
ARAF had previously pledged to not select former dopers when it sought to persuade the International Association of Athletics Federations to lift the suspension imposed last November and then confirmed in May.
The IAAF banned Russian athletes from international comoetition after allegations of widespread, state-assisted doping.
Various Russian athletes have opposed the IAAF’s stance on the grounds that they are untainted and thus should not be punished by such a blanket ban.
ARAF said all 68 athletes met Olympic qualifying standards and registered as plaintiffs in the ROC suit at CAS aiming to lift the ban.
A statement said: “Each sportsman has sent an individual request to compete in the Olympic Games which will be checked by the IAAF, as ARAF is now not a member of the IAAF.
“Also, as has already been published, the Russian Olympic Committee has agreed its position with ARAF and are appealing to CAS in Lausanne concerning the overall legality of adding extra criteria for the participation of sportsmen competing at the Olympics. This claim was supported by all 68 athletes.”
Russian doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova last week became the first athlete seeking exceptional eligibility to compete in international competition as a neutral athlete to be granted this privilege.
Middle-distance runner Stepanova and her husband Vitaly, a former Russian anti-doping agency official, provided evidence for the damning World Anti-Doping Agency report that led to Russia’s suspension.
The IAAF Doping Review Board unanimously accepted the application of Stepanova as someone that made a “truly exceptional contribution” to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport. Stepanova is now eligible to compete in international competitions as an independent neutral athlete.