Rio Olympics 2016: 4 days to go

Russian swim duo seek reprieve

Morozov, Lobintsev take their cases to CAS, IOC to make decision before start of Games

Vladimir Morozov has appealed to the CAS against his exclusion from the Rio Games, after Fina banned him because his name appeared in Richard McLaren's report into state-directed doping in Russia.
Vladimir Morozov has appealed to the CAS against his exclusion from the Rio Games, after Fina banned him because his name appeared in Richard McLaren's report into state-directed doping in Russia.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

RIO DE JANEIRO • Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev have lodged appeals against their bans from the Rio Olympics with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Their move comes as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Saturday that a three-member IOC panel will have the final say on which Russian athletes can compete in Brazil - reviewing all decisions taken by the international federations.

The panel - consisting of Ugur Erdener, president of World Archery and head of the IOC medical and scientific commission, Claudia Bockel of the IOC athletes commission and Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch - will examine each case individually and make the "final decision" before Friday, when the Olympics start.

The CAS has set up a base in Rio for the Games, and Morozov and Lobintsev have become the first athletes to take their cases to it.

Last Monday, swimming's world governing body Fina banned both swimmers, along with their compatriot Daria Ustinova, because their names appeared in Richard McLaren's damning report into state-directed doping in Russia.

Four more swimmers were withdrawn from the team by the Russian Olympic Committee as they had previously served doping bans, after the IOC ruled that any Russian with such offences in the past would be barred from competing.

Morozov, 24, a freestyle and backstroke specialist, and Lobintsev, 27, a freestyle swimmer, have asked the CAS to rule as "invalid and unenforceable" the key section of the IOC executive board's ruling that specified that anyone implicated in the McLaren report should be refused entry into the Games.

"The swimmers also request that the decision of the Fina bureau, declaring both of them ineligible for the Olympic Games in Rio, be set aside," the CAS said.

The court was scheduled to hold an emergency session in Rio yesterday to hear their appeal.

So far, 117 athletes from the 387 that the Russian Olympic Committee wanted to enter have been excluded.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Saturday that he expected 266 athletes from his country to compete.

The boxing, golf, gymnastics and taekwondo federations have yet to report their decisions.

Russian doping whistle-blower Vitaly Stepanov claimed the Olympics "will not be clean", and also blasted the IOC for not imposing a blanket ban on Russia.

The former Russian anti-doping agency official, who now lives in hiding in the United States with his 800m-runner wife Yuliya Stepanova, said efforts to clean up sport had failed.

"It has always been the case in the Olympics. There has never been a clean Olympics and there is no reason to believe that Rio will be clean," he told O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Yesterday, 13 national anti-doping organisations, including those from the United States, Canada, Germany and Japan, gave a damning verdict on the IOC's "hasty and ill-conceived" response to state-sponsored doping in Russia and accused its leaders of being open to political and commercial influence at the expense of clean sport. "A radical change is needed to ensure that such a failure never occurs again," they said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2016, with the headline 'Russian swim duo seek reprieve'. Subscribe