IOC approves 271 Russian athletes for Rio Games

Although only 70 percent of the originally 387-strong Russian squad will be able to participate in the Olympics, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) head Alexander Zhukov says it will be the cleanest team in Rio.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Russia's Olympic Committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov addresses a press conference.

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) head Alexander Zhukov on Thursday said that Russia would be represented in most sports at the Rio Olympics, with 271 of its sportsmen and women cleared to participate ahead of the opening ceremony.

Russia's depleted team will comprise about 70 percent of the 387-strong squad originally named for the Rio Olympics.

Although Russian boxers, judokas and shooters were among those given last-minute approvals by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the aftermath of a doping scandal. Country’s track-and-field athletes and weightlifters have already been barred over doping offences. 

Russia narrowly avoided a complete ban over allegations its government and FSB security service systematically covered up widespread cheating.

The scandal has tarnished Russia’s reputation as a sporting superpower and threatened to split the Olympic movement.

In July the IOC chose not to impose a blanket ban on all Russian athletes, instead directed sports federations to allow them to compete if they met a set of criteria, including a clean doping past and sufficient testing at international events.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a meeting with the Russian Olympic team in the Kremlin in Moscow, on July 27, 2016.

Zhukov said the conditions imposed by the IOC means Russia’s 271-strong team would now be the cleanest at the Rio Games.

Speaking at a news conference in Rio, Zhukov said: "Not one team underwent such strict requirements as Russian athletes, no athletes from any country ... had the rules changed to bar those previously guilty of doping."

Zhukov also said it was unfair that Russian sports stars such as double Olympic champion pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva would now watch the Games from home while past doping offenders including top US runner Justin Gatlin took to the field.

"Athletes such as Yelena Isinbayeva ... are absolutely clean, this is a flagrant injustice."

Russia has long drawn pride and prestige from its history of Olympic success and President Vladimir Putin speaking to the Russian team before they left for Rio last week said Russia's Olympic ambitions had fallen victim to a politically motivated plot.

TRTWorld and agencies