Rio Olympics: European Olympic Committee's president opposes Russia ban

European Olympic Committee president Pat Hickey (L) was alerted to the move when the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency's athletes commission sent out an appeal for backing for the campaign. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Moscow, Russia Jul 17, 2016, 04.56 PM (IST)
Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko said today he was pleased with European Olympic Committee (EOC) president Pat Hickey's opposition to a North American-led campaign to ban Russia from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"The statement by Hickey is very important," TASS news agency quoted Mutko as saying.

Earlier today Hickey said he was "shocked" by a move led by the United States and Canada's anti-doping agencies to have Russia completely banned from the Summer Games, which start in Rio on August 5.

The move pre-empted the release on Monday of a report into allegations of Russian doping carried out for World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA) by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

Mutko said that Hickey "is quite right when he says that the move by US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) puts in question the independence and the confidentiality of the investigation by the WADA commission."

"Now it's clear what will happen after the report by McLaren: a news conference and pressure on Russia."

Hickey said he was alerted to the move when the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency's athletes commission sent out an appeal for backing for the campaign.

McLaren is expected to report on Monday on his investigation into allegations that the Russian government manipulated doping samples taken at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to protect Russian competitors.

McLaren has investigated allegations made by former Moscow doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov that even Russian secret services took part in an operation to manipulate Russian doping samples at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Russia is already barred from international athletics by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could rule as early as Tuesday on an appeal by 68 Russian athletes who say they should be allowed to compete in Rio.

Pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva is among the 68 hoping for a last-minute ticket to Rio from CAS.

Russia's sports minister also condemned the situation around the Monday's report by McLaren as "just a farce and political pressure," speaking to R-Sport news agency.

"A public commission makes an accusation against a country. But what kind of powers or ability does it have to do that? An accusation against a country is a serious thing. You need to observe some proprieties."

Mutko added that both Russia Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and Moscow's anti-doping laboratory are "currently part of WADA's internal structure," saying:

"It's necessary to understand that by blaming us you also blame yourself."

"Russia is open. We're ready to do everything at the top level. That's our philosophy," Mutko said.

(AFP)