RIO DE JANEIRO: International Olympic Committee leaders on Saturday started talks dominated by fallout from the Russian doping crisis as a Russian swimmer appealed against his Rio Olympics ban just six days before the start of the Games.
London Olympics bronze medallist Vladimir Morozov became the first to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against an IOC order to international federations to exclude athletes named in a report alleging state-run doping in Russia.
Rio’s troubled preparations for the Games, which start on Friday, also occupied the IOC executive who heard on Saturday from chief Rio organiser Carlos Nuzman.
The executive board meeting was pushed back so IOC president Thomas Bach could attend the delayed inauguration of a Rio metro line which will link the Barra Olympic zone to the rest of Rio.
The athletes village has also been criticised by some delegations about conditions. The two week Games, which will bring some 10,500 athletes from around the world, run from August 5 to 21.
The Russia crisis will dominate the IOC executive’s final two-day meeting before the gala opening on Friday. The IOC is still in shock over attacks for not ordering a blanket ban on Russian athletes following an inquiry by Canadian lawyer Richard McLean for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
WADA president Craig Reedie, who called for Russia’s complete exclusion from Rio, is to address the IOC executive on Sunday.
At least 117 Russian athletes out of 387 names proposed for the Games have been excluded by federations which were told by the IOC to examine all Russian competitors entered.
Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Saturday that he expected 266 Russians to be in Rio. But boxing, golf, gymnastics and taekwondo have yet to announce the results of their inquiries.
The appeal by Morozov to CAS could hold up the final figure further. Sports sources told AFP that the 24-year-old had gone to the tribunal, which has special courts set up in Rio to hear such cases.
Morozov, a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay team that came third in 2012 in London, was one of seven Russian swimmers banned by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) following the IOC directive.
The CAS has already rejected an appeal made by 67 Russian athletes against a ban ordered by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) before the IOC sanctions.
Athletics was the first sport touched by the doping controversy. But McLaren’s report said there was state-organised doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and other major international events in Russia.
Russian doping whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov told a Brazilian newspaper that the Rio Olympics “will not be clean” and blasted the IOC for not banning Russia.
Stepanov, who with his 800m runner wife Yuliya Stepanova, gave details of the state-run doping programme to a German documentary released in 2014, said efforts to clean up sport had failed.
“It has always been the case in the Olympics. There has never been a clean Olympics and there is no reason to believe that Rio will be clean,” he told O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.
“Unfortunately, doped athletes will be competing,” said the former Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) official now living in hiding in the United States with his wife.
The IOC invited the couple to Rio but also ruled that Stepanova could not take part in the Games despite her role in lifting the lid on the use of banned substances.