Sun, Jul 31, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Blanket weightlifter ban new blow for Russia

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

A ban on all Russian weightlifters dealt a new blow to the nation ahead of an International Olympic Committee meeting yesterday that was to be dominated by multiple doping scandals.

New criticism of the athletes’ village in Rio added to the dark clouds hanging over the Games, which start on Friday.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) banned all eight Russian contenders — five men and three women — entered for Rio.

About 117 Russian competitors from the 387 initially put forward by the Russian Olympic Committee have now been banned from the Games. They include 67 track and field athletes.

Weightlifting’s reputation “has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians, therefore an appropriate sanction was applied in order to preserve the status of the sport,” the IWF said. “We would like to highlight the extremely shocking and disappointing statistics regarding the Russian weightlifters.”

Among those banned are world champion Artem Okulov, 2012 London Games bronze medalist Ruslan Albegov and silver medalist Tatiana Kashirina.

The IOC has taken fierce criticism for not ordering a blanket ban on Russia after an independent report said there was state-organized doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The IOC executive was to meet this weekend to discuss the crisis. The full IOC meets from tomorrow.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Craig Reedie, who is also an IOC vice president, was to give a report on the agency’s activities yesterday.

Reedie had led calls for a blanket ban on Russia over the doping.

However, the IOC last week decided that individual sporting federations had to examine Russian entries and decide whether they should be allowed to compete.

The Olympic committee is to take a final decision on Russian entries based on the recommendations. However, it is not yet known when this is to be announced.

Boxing, golf, gymnastics and taekwondo are among sports still to have announced their decisions.

A small fire at the Rio athletes village on Friday, which forced the evacuation of the Australian delegation, left a new stain on preparations for the Games.

Team spokesman Mike Tancred said “there was a lot of smoke,” but that athletes returned after fire fighters controlled the blaze.

“There was no big drama,” Tancred said.

Australia had led a boycott over conditions at the village last week, while Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes lashed out on Friday at the Olympics organizing committee, accusing it of “serious problems” in managing the village.

Paes blamed the Rio2016 committee for a slew of problems at the village, which has been his public relations nightmare all week.

“The athletes’ village was ready. Then the organizing committee took charge for three months and there were extremely serious management problems. During those three months, people intruded into the apartments and a lot of things were stolen,” Paes told O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. “The doors were left half-open. The organizing committee was careless, objectively speaking.”

He said his office was informed of the problems only last week, despite a series of weekly meetings between his staff and the organizing committee.

Paes’ week got off to a rough start on Sunday last week when the Olympic village opened to a boycott from Australia, which refused to move in because of exposed wiring, leaking pipes, blocked toilets, unlighted stairwells and other problems.

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