MOSCOW: Russia’s Sports Ministry believes it has turned the corner in the diplomatic battle to have Russian track and field athletes lining up on the start lines of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Last week the governing council of the International Association of Athletics Federations extended the ban imposed last November following revelations of long-time doping and test cheating in Russia.

However a one-off ‘summit’ called by Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday came up with a compromise ‘wriggle room’ order that rogue states should have individual athletes’ ‘clean’ qualifications ratified by their international federations.

Dope cheats

It is understood this did not go down well with Lord Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, who considered his federation’s firm stance against dope cheats and right to decide on eligibility was being undermined.

By contrast Vitaly Mutko, the under-pressure Russian Sports Ministry and long-time acolyte of President Vladimir Putin, was relieved and delighted.

A statement from the Russian Ministry of Sport said: “We respect the statement made today by the International Olympic Committee and fully support its zero tolerance approach to doping.

“We have long stated that individual athletes in Russia are willing to demonstrate their innocence and prove they are clean.

“Our Olympians are ready to go over and above all the normal anti-doping tests to show their commitment to clean and fair sport.

“For example, all track and field athletes had already agreed to undergo a minimum of three additional anti-doping controls carried out by the IAAF before the Olympic Games.

“We look forward to working closely with the international federations to determine how to assess eligibility.”

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