Rio de Janeiro: Russia is to launch a last-ditch legal bid to reinstate 19 of its rowers who were banned from the Rio Olympics because of insufficient drug testing.
Russian Rowing Federation head Veniamin But told over phone that he plans to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport next week to try to overturn the ruling from World Rowing.
The 19 were excluded because World Rowing said they had not been tested often enough by reliable international authorities.
Tests conducted by the Russian anti-doping agency, which is suspended following repeated allegations of cover-ups, are not considered valid for Olympic purposes.
But adds that his rowers “are training and are ready to travel” to Rio at short notice if they win their case.
It came as Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said 272 of the country’s athletes have received approval from international sports federations to compete at the Rio Olympics under new restrictions imposed due to the Russian doping scandal.
Mutko told Russian media that “as of today, 272 athletes have definitely been admitted to the Olympics,” adding that a final figure would be available Saturday.
Russia had originally planned to send a 387-person team, but that has steadily been reduced as federations removed those who had previously served doping bans and those implicated in World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren’s report alleging a massive cover-up of failed drug tests.
Russia’s largest losses are in track and field, with 67 of 68 athletes barred, while the situation remains unclear in some sports, notably weightlifting and boxing.
The sports chief of the Russian Olympic team in Rio said Russian athletes who arrived in Rio early are under scrutiny of WADA doping agents.
Igor Kazikov told state-owned television channel on Friday that every member of the team who had arrived by Thursday has already been tested for doping at least once.
“I can see that every morning doping agents come and take their samples,” Kazikov said. He added, however, that he was not sure how that compares to how often athletes from other countries get tested.
Russia also said its taekwondo team has been approved to compete.
Anatoly Terekhov, head of the Russian Taekwondo Union, said all Russians entered for taekwondo in Rio have been approved by the World Taekwondo Federation, in comments to Russian agency R-Sport.
Terekhov said he received a letter from the WTF and that “we were told that all three of our athletes have officially been admitted to compete in the Olympic Games.”