MOSCOW • Some 70 Russian competitors from the country's pared-back Olympics team flew out from Moscow for Rio yesterday as sports federations whittled down the number of athletes allowed to take part.
Dressed in red and white sports uniforms, the Olympic hopefuls - including Russia's volleyball, handball and synchronised swimming squads - received a warm send-off despite the scandal over state-run doping that has seen more than 100 competitors banned.
"They have got us fired up - but in a good way. We are going to fight more to prove that it is difficult to break Russia," handball player Polina Kuznetsova said. "We will fight for those who were not able to go."
The International Olympic Committee sparked fierce criticism from outside Russia last Sunday when it resisted a blanket ban on the country in favour of allowing individual sports federations to make the call on which Russians can go to Rio.
International sports federations are now scrambling to vet Russian athletes as time ticks down to the start of the Games on Aug 5.
"We anxiously waited for this day, we worried. You know yourselves what the situation is," Alexander Zhukov, the head of Russia's Olympic Committee was quoted as saying by Tass news agency. "It is now time to put all doubts aside. The Russian team is going to the Olympics."
Some Russian competitors are already in Brazil acclimatising to the conditions but, despite yesterday's triumphant farewell, it remains unclear how many of the 387-strong squad Moscow named last week will eventually compete.
The track and field team - including stars Yelena Isinbayeva and Sergey Shubenkov - have been banned en masse and now rowers, swimmers, weightlifters and canoeists have been added to the list.
Zhukov said that less than 100 Russian competitors were still waiting to find out their fate and that the final make-up of the team should be announced over the weekend, just days before the start of the Games.
It is believed more than 200 Russians will compete in Rio despite more evidence emerging on Wednesday of doping by the country's athletes.
Fencing, triathlon and volleyball were the latest sports to declare the country's competitors eligible for Rio de Janeiro.
The declarations came as it was revealed that 11 more weightlifters, including four Russians, have been caught by the retesting of samples taken at the London 2012 Games.
Fencing's world governing body, the FIE, said that it had "re-examined the results" of tests taken by Russians in the past two years and all were negative.
Fencing was seen as being unlikely to take a tough line as Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is the FIE president.
Volleyball's international federation, the FIVB, said that it was passing all 44 of Russia's roster for the beach and indoor competitions, while the International Triathlon Union cleared the three men and three women in Russia's triathlon squad to compete in Brazil.
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HAS DECISION BEEN MADE ON RUSSIAN ATHLETES?
All three Russian athletes selected have been cleared by World Archery, which says they have been tested extensively.
The IAAF confirmed a ban for Russia's track and field athletes in June, a decision upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week when it turned down appeals from 67 athletes.
The Badminton World Federation has included four Russians in the draw pending validation of the International Olympic Committee.
The International Canoe Federation has removed five Russian athletes.
The FEI said there was no indication of doping within Russia's five-rider team.
The FIE has cleared the 16-member Russian team.
The International Judo Federation, of which Russian President Vladimir Putin is honorary president, cleared all 11 selected athletes.
The UIPM has barred Maksim Kutsov and Ilia Frolov because of previous offences, but three other Russians, including former world champion Aleksander Lesun, will compete.
The World Rowing Federation says only six Russians met conditions to take part but 17 entered rowers and two of the coxes did not. The organisation earlier said three other Russians did not meet conditions to compete.
|Sailing||World Sailing cleared six Russians to compete but denied one the right to do so.|
|Shooting||All 18 Russians will be permitted to compete by the ISSF.|
All seven selected Russian players were cleared to compete by the International Tennis Federation.
|Triathlon||All six Russians cleared by the International Triathlon Union|
The International Volleyball Federation has submitted a list of Russian volleyball and beach volleyball participants to the IOC and CAS for approval
• Table tennis
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS