Russian track athletes still to compete – among themselves


What’s the point of heading all the way down to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the Olympics when you can host your own right at home?

That’s apparently the question Russia has been trying to answer since nearly a third of its athletes that qualified for the Olympics were banned in June because of doping – and it has responded in the only way it knows how.

By holding its own Olympics.

The head coach of Russia’s national team, Yuri Borzakovsky, announced Wednesday that Russia will host its own tournament for all the athletes who were banned from competing at the Rio Olympics next month because of doping violations that resulted from a lengthy investigation conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

According to The Atlantic, Borzakovsky told state-run news outlet TASS that the tournament will feature 135 track and field athletes, including past Olympic and world champions.

From TASS, via The Atlantic:

The track-and-field athletes who will compete in Moscow on Thursday include hurdle racer Sergei Shubenkov, incumbent world champion in a 110-meters race; high jumpers Maria Kuchina, Olympic Champion Ivan Ukhov and Daniil Tsyplakov; javelin throwers Dmitry Tarabin and Vera Rebrik; triple jumper Yekaterina Koneva.

The tournament will take place July 27 at a undisclosed stadium in Moscow.

WADA’s investigation found that the Russian government was complicit in an elaborate state-sponsored doping program spanning four years, from 2011 to 2015. WADA recommended a blanket ban on all Russian athletes, but the International Olympic Committee decided earlier this week not to ban all the Russian athletes. Instead, the IOC is allowing the banned athletes to appeal to their individual athletic governing body for a chance to compete.

The International Association of Athletics Federations banned all Russian track and field athletes after the release of the WADA investigation, and upheld that ruling after 68 of those athletes tried to appeal in June.

[Related: Vladimir Putin claims medals devalued with absence of Russian athletes]

Several other governing bodies have begun doling out bans as well. Among those who won’t be able to compete for Russia in Brazil are members of the track, swimming, rowing, weightlifting and sailing teams. Other athletes, such as those competing in table tennis, have been cleared to compete.