World Rowing bans 22 members of Russian Olympic team

Alexey Korovashkov, left, is one of five Russian canoeists who have been banned from next month's Rio Olympics. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Alexey Korovashkov, left, is one of five Russian canoeists who have been banned from next month's Rio Olympics. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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World Rowing has taken the hardest stance with Russia since athletics ahead of the Rio Olympics, banning 22 of the nation’s 28 rowers from competing.

With a blanket ban on all track and field athletes in the wake of the country’s recently-uncovered, state-run doping programme, individual sports have been making decisions on participation after they were given the freedom to do so by the International Olympic Committee.

Russia were given a boost earlier yesterday when the governing bodies for judo, shooting and sailing waved some athletes through, but the banning of 22 rowers – effectively four boats – is damning.

In revealing its judgment, World Rowing (FISA) said that those banned were “not at all considered to have participated in doping” but were not being allowed in as they “do not meet the conditions established by the IOC in their decision of 24 July 2016 for participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games”.

Effectively, the rowers have been blocked because they have not been tested enough times out of Russia. As such, only Aleksandr Chaukin, Georgy Efremenko, Artem Kosov, Nikita Morgachev, Vladislav Ryabcev and Anton Zarutskiy will be permitted to take to the water, with the lightweight men’s four, lightweight women’s double sculls and men’s and women’s eights withdrawn. The places will instead be given to Greece (men’s four), Italy (women’s sculls) and Australia and Italy (women’s and men’s eight).

World Rowing’s statement continued: “Russia has the possibility to form a men’s four (M4-) with the eligible six rowers for competition in Rio 2016. We await the Russian Rowing Federation’s decision on this possibility.”

The news came after Russia had received a boost from judo and shooting. In a statement, the executive committee of the International Shooting Sport Federation said none of Russia’s 18 proposed competitors appeared in Richard McLaren’s damning report into the Russian doping scandal or had previously served bans.

And a spokesperson for International Judo Federation (IJF) president Marius Vizer said that the federation had written to the IOC to say all 11 of Russia’s proposed team should be considered eligible.

Russia won only one bronze medal in the shooting at London 2012 but claimed three golds, a silver and a bronze in judo. They were the first Olympic judo gold medals the country had ever won.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is the IJF’s honorary president. There was no word on the identities of the Russian judokas responsible for the eight manipulated drugs tests uncovered by McLaren.

Earlier, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) ruled five sprint canoeists – Elena Aniushina, Alexander Dyachenko, Alexey Korovashkov, Andrey Kraitor and Natalia Podolskaia – ineligible but stopped short of issuing a federation-wide ban.

ICF secretary general Simon Toulson said: “This is a bitter blow for the Olympic movement and we are saddened that our sport is implicated. We have taken swift action and removed all offending athletes where doping evidence exists.”

Dyachenko won the men’s K2 gold medal at London 2012 along with his team-mate Iurii Postrigai, who will also miss out on Rio although he was not implicated in the report.

World Sailing blocked the eligibility of Pavel Sozykin, an athlete in the two-man 470 class who was implicated in the McLaren report, but Russia will be allowed to call up a reserve. The rest of the team have been cleared to compete, subject to extra testing and Court of Arbitration for Sport approval.