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IOC eases ban on Russian athletes as CAS wrestles with record number of appeals

Sailing's world body said it had cancelled a ban against Russian 470 class contender Pavel Sozykin because of the new instructions. In photo: IOC chief Thomas Bach Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Aug 04, 2016, 02.28 AM (IST)
The International Olympic Committee eased a ban on Russian athletes competing in the Rio Games as the Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Wednesday it was wrestling with a record number of appeals.

The IOC sent out "new guidance" on how to implement sanctions ordered after an investigation found widespread state-backed Russian doping, according to the world sailing federation.

Sailing's world body said it had cancelled a ban against Russian 470 class contender Pavel Sozykin because of the new instructions.

The IOC had initially said any athlete "implicated" in the state-run doping revealed by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren should be excluded from the Games.

But a new statement sent to the 28 summer Olympics federations on Monday "indicated that an athlete should not be considered as 'implicated' if the McLaren list does not refer to a prohibited substance which would have given rise to an anti-doping rules violation," the sailing federation said.

Sozykin, like many Russian athletes facing bans, was named in connection with the manipulation of samples so positive results could be covered up.

World sailing said it had reinstated Sozykin because the substance he was accused of taking would not have resulted in a ban.

But dozens of would-be Olympians from Russia remained in limbo as CAS sorted through their appeals.

CAS said at least 11 of the 18 appeals launched at a special tribunal in Rio since July 26 involved Russian athletes banned after they were implicated in the McLaren probe.

CAS said in a statement that the tribunal in Rio had set "a new record of cases for one edition of the Olympic Games" before the Rio event starts on Friday.

At the 2012 London Olympics, CAS had 11 cases in all to handle.

CAS on Wednesday rejected a challenge by the Russian weightlifting federation against its suspension by the international weightlifting federation after the McLaren report.

That meant eight Russian lifters were banned from Rio.

An appeal by 17 Russian rowers was also been rejected.

'Something needs to change'

Nine other Russian procedures involved four Russian swimmers, four weightlifters who made individual appeals, three cyclists, three rowers, a wrestler and a canoeist.

An IOC spokesman said that a panel that will confirm the Russian team was still "very close" to finishing the final number.

According to an AFP count, at least 119 athletes from the 387 entered by the Russian Olympic Committee have now been excluded by federations.

The scale of the scandal has rocked the Olympic movement but Olympic great Michael Phelps said that at heart it was nothing new.

"I think I can honestly say, in my career, I don't know if I've ever competed in a clean sport," said the 18-time Olympic gold medallist as he headed into his fifth Olympics. "It's upsetting."

"It's something that needs to change about all sport, not just swimming," he said. "We've had this problem for how many Olympics now -- it seems almost every time there's something that comes up.

"It's sad. It's really sad that we can't control it. That somebody who is in charge cannot control this."

Phelps's longtime coach Bob Bowman, head coach of the US men's swimming team in Rio, said the governing bodies of sports had "dropped the ball".

"The system is broken, and it has to be fixed," he said.

(AFP)
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