Russia’s athletics team will definitely not compete in Rio after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected a Russian appeal against their ban.
Now the world waits to learn if the International Olympic Committee will go a step further. The CAS ruling on the Russian appeal will be considered by the IOC as part of their judgment, which is due Monday morning, on whether to accept a WADA recommendation and issue a blanket ban for the entire Russian team.
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Russian lab protected athletes: WADA
An independent report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, finds evidence of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics.
“CAS rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes,” CAS said in a statement.
CAS upheld the decision by athletic’s world body, the IAAF, to ban Russia. The IAAF president Seb Coe welcomed the ruling but warned it was a grim moment for the sport and “not a day for triumphant statements”.
“I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing,” he said.
Australia’s long jumper and serious Olympic medal prospect Brooke Stratton added her young voice to the world chorus calling for the entire Russian team to be kicked out of the Olympics.
Presently only two Russian track and field athletes – 800m runner and whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova and US-based long jumper Darya Klishina – have been given dispensation to compete in Rio under a neutral flag.
“(Klishina) obviously wouldn’t have had a lot to do with it over in Russia, which is fair enough,” said Stratton, “… (but) I personally don’t think they should (compete in Rio).
“I think if they send one or two athletes that haven’t been in Russia then they should just not send any at all.
“I think it will get the point across that what they are doing is wrong.”
As a long jumper Stratton understands the injustice Russians have visited upon her sport – Russians have won medals in long jump at the last four Olympic games and two drug cheats denied Australian Bronwyn Thompson a medal in 2004.
Russia won the trifecta of all three long jump medals in Athens with Thompson finishing fourth. Two of those athletes, Irina Meleshina (silver) and Tatyana Kotova (bronze) later served doping bans but kept their 2004 Olympic medals.
“Occasionally Gary (national long jump coach Gary Bourne) has brought up the fact that it was extremely unfair that Bronwyn placed fourth at the Olympics,” Stratton said on Thursday.
“He was just disappointed that she was coming through when there was a lot of doping in Russia and she definitely deserved to be on the podium the year she placed fourth.”
It was Thompson’s national record that 22-year-old Stratton broke in Perth this year with a jump of 7.05 metres, bettering Thompson’s 7-metre record set in 2002.
That effort and her ongoing form since, have her now firmly in the frame for a medal in Rio. To put Stratton’s national record in perspective, her jump would have won her bronze at the London Olympics and at the world championships in Beijing last year.
“Only two women have jumped further than me this season, which goes to show that if I could get a 7-metre jump out in Rio then I could be pretty competitive,” she said.
“I don’t think the standard is as high as what it has been in the past so anything can happen.
“I’m sure if I am in good enough shape and I can jump well that hopefully places me amongst the medals. It’s definitely good to know that anything around the high 6 metres, low 7 metres could potentially put me in a spot to medal. It’s pretty exciting.”
Stratton has returned from competing in Europe where she did well, consistently jumping in the mid-to-high six metre range against high quality fields including americans Brittney Reese, the reigning olympic champion, and Tianna Bartoletta the reigning world champion.
“I feel like I belong a lot more out there now than I did last year at the world champs. I was extremely nervous going into that event but now I don’t get as nervous, which I think is a good thing,” she said.
“I am sure nerves will be extreme being an Olympic event and all hype that comes with it but I definitely think I will cope a lot better in Rio this year.”
Stratton will jump in a small event on the Gold Coast next Friday just to keep competing ahead of flying out to Florida for the athletics team camp.
“Sometimes if I don’t jump for a few weeks I can find myself a little rusty so this will be my last competition before heading into Florida.”