Olympic sports federations do not endorse total Russian ban from Rio

Russia
Getty Images
0 Comments

LONDON (AP) — Summer Olympic sports federations said on Tuesday they are ready to deal with “individual cases” of Russian doping, rather than endorse a total ban on the Russian team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 28 sports in the Games, said it recognized the “gravity and extent of the doping activities in Russia” as detailed in Monday’s report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.

The report, which accused Russia’s sports ministry of overseeing doping of the country’s Olympic athletes on a vast scale, listed 20 summer sports as being part of the cheating conspiracy.

WADA and other anti-doping officials urged the International Olympic Committee to consider the unprecedented step of excluding the entire Russian contingent from the Rio Games. The IOC executive board was meeting by teleconference later Tuesday to weight its options.

Any IOC decisions may not be definitive, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport is scheduled to rule on Thursday on Russia’s appeal against the IAAF ban on its track and field athletes from competing in Rio.

The summer sports association made clear they do not support a blanket ban.

The association asked WADA “to immediately provide all the detailed information to the 20 international federations concerned so that they may begin processing the individual cases under their own separate rules and regulations as soon as possible, and in line with the WADA Code and the Olympic Charter.

“It is important to focus on the need for individual justice in all these cases.”

The association said it endorses all federation decisions, “including those that take into account collective responsibility of organizations under the IFs’ governance.”

That means, rather than applying a total ban, federations could suspend individual Russian sports. That’s already the case with the IAAF, which barred Russia’s track athletes from the games following previous WADA-commissioned reports into Russian doping.

“ASOIF fully supports a policy of zero tolerance in bringing all individuals linked to anti-doping violations to justice,” the statement said.

The summer association’s position falls in line with recent comments by IOC President Thomas Bach, who has cited the need to strike a balance between “individual justice and collective punishment.” He said last week that, if summer sports were implicated in the McLaren report, the international federations would have to decide on the eligibility of Russian athletes “on an individual basis.”

McLaren’s report uncovered a state-run doping scheme that ensnared 28 sports, both summer and winter, and ran from 2011 to 2015.

The investigation told of 312 positive tests that Russia’s deputy minister of sport directed lab workers not to report to WADA. Russia’s intelligence serve, the FSB, was also involved, the report said. It also provided further details of the swapping of doping samples to protect Russian dopers, including medalists, at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

“I’m shocked and devastated by what’s been going on,” said Paul Melia, the head of Canada’s anti-doping organization, after the findings were delivered on Monday in Toronto. “And I can only imagine how betrayed the clean athletes of the world are feeling today in the face of this evidence.”

WADA President Craig Reedie, who is also an IOC vice president, said: “WADA insists upon imposition of the most serious consequences to protect clean athletes from the scourge of doping in sport.”

But a blanket ban is not a sure thing.

The decision to deliver one is rife with political ramifications that involve a country that sent the third-most athletes (more than 430) to the previous Summer Olympics, four years ago in London. It puts the IOC in the position of ruling against one of its biggest supporters, a nation that spent more than $50 billion hosting the Winter Games in Sochi just two years ago.

“The right to participate at the games cannot be stolen from an athlete, who has duly qualified and has not been found guilty of doping,” said Bruno Grandi, president of gymnastics’ international federation. “Blanket bans have never been and will never be just.”

Gymnastics was not among the sports listed in the report. Wrestling, meanwhile, accounted for 28 of the 312 unreported positives. The head of that international federation, Nenad Lalovic of Serbia, told The Associated Press “we will absolutely follow the decisions of the IOC.”

Whether the IOC issues its decision on Tuesday or simply sets the table for it to come later, it could be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS was hearing Russia’s appeal on Tuesday against the ban on its athletics team.

MORE: Uhlaender, fourth in Sochi, contacts Russian bronze medalist about report

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
0 Comments

The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
Getty
0 Comments

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!