Rio Olympics 2016: 1 day to go

Doping scandal still a thorn in IOC's side

Competition kicks off with women's football, but scandal overshadows start to the Games

RIO DE JANEIRO • Sporting action at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games kicked off yesterday (early this morning Singapore time) when the women's football competition got underway.

But even as the sporting side of the Games shifts into higher gear, the Olympic movement is still struggling to douse the troublesome sideshow of the Russia doping scandal.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach called for deep reforms at the World Anti-Doping Agency, while the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rebuffed appeals by 17 Russian rowers against their exclusion from the Rio Olympics.

With appeals involving a dozen other Russian swimmers, wrestlers and weightlifters still to be decided, the controversy over state-run doping blamed on the Russian government threatens to overshadow tomorrow's opening ceremony.

Late on Tuesday, Brazilian police used tear gas against demonstrators trying to obstruct the tour of the Olympic flame in a Rio de Janeiro suburb.

And even as Brazil's star player Marta led her team on the start of a campaign to realise the dream of winning a football gold on home soil - they took on China in their opening match - sports politicians have been hogging the limelight in the run-up to the Games as they argue over how to answer Russia's widespread doping.

On Tuesday, Bach and other IOC members launched direct attacks on Wada and veiled asides at its British chief Craig Reedie.

"It saddens me to say this, but at times Wada has seemed to be more interested in publicity and self-promotion rather than doing its job as a regulator," Argentina's IOC member Gerardo Werthein said.

Reedie said he was "personally offended" by Werthein's comments, revealing that he confronted the Argentinian.

"I heard a view that the system is broken," he told delegates at an IOC session that continued yesterday. "I would like to say that all of it is not broken, part of it is broken and we should start identifying those parts that need attention."

The international sports tribunal is holding special hearings in Rio to help the process of deciding how many Russians will compete in Rio.

The CAS rejected a challenge by 17 Russian rowers against their exclusion from the Olympics over doping.

Daniil Andrienko led 16 other rowers in lodging a case against the World Rowing Federation and the IOC on Monday demanding to compete in Rio.

The tribunal must still give a verdict on appeals by three swimmers, a wrestler and the Russian weightlifting federation.

The federations have eliminated at least 117 competitors from the group of 387 athletes the Russian Olympic Committee had entered.

Once all federations have reported and CAS has ruled on the appeals, a three-member IOC panel will decide the final Russian line-up.

Canoeist Andrey Kraytor and wrestler Viktor Lebedev made their own appeals against the order along with swimmers Vladimir Morozov, Nikita Lobintsev and Yulia Efimova.

Decisions on the swimmers had been expected on Tuesday.

The Russian weightlifting federation is seeking to overturn its suspension by the International Weightlifting Federation over the doping.

If successful, it said, the organisation would launch a new case on behalf of eight weightlifters banned from the Olympics.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Doping scandal still a thorn in IOC's side'. Print Edition | Subscribe