By Mitch Phillips
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Italy were awarded Russia's place in the Olympic men's cycling team pursuit competition on Friday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected the appeal by three Russian riders who were ruled ineligible by the sport's governing body.
Dmitry Sokolov, Dmitry Strakhov and Kiril Sveshnikov were ruled out by the UCI after being named in the McLaren report that exposed extensive state-sponsored doping and cover-ups of positive tests in Russia.
Their appeal to CAS was rejected on Friday, opening the way for Italy, who finished fourth in the world championships in March, smashing their national record, to replace them.
"We're very happy with this call-up but we're a little bit sorry that it has come at the last minute and that the lads haven't had the chance to prepare themselves and aren't in top condition," Gianluca Valoti, director sportive of three of the riders' pro team Colpack told Cycling Weekly.
"This was a rest period for our riders. Simone Consonni and Filippo Ganna were training at Sestriere to get ready for their next races on the road."
The qualifying round for the pursuit is held next Thursday.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)