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Russian athletes edgy as IAAF rules on their suspension

Russian athletes edgy as IAAF rules on their suspension

Russia

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will on Friday announce if its ban on Russian athletes will extend to the Rio games or not.

The IAAF in November last year suspended the eastern European country from all track and field events following an independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of widespread state-sponsored doping.

The IAAF Council meeting in Vienna on Friday will vote on whether to lift the suspension or maintain it.

Probably all athletes, (and) our entire leadership expect a positive decision, that we will be allowed (to compete), that justice will prevail and all athletes will take part in the Olympic Games.

With the Rio Olympic games barely three months away, Russian athletes are on edge hoping the athletics body will clear them to compete.

“Probably all athletes, (and) our entire leadership expect a positive decision, that we will be allowed (to compete), that justice will prevail and all athletes will take part in the Olympic Games,” said world and European triple jump champion, Yekaterina Koneva.

The International Olympic Committee has said it will not allow ‘cheats’ to compete in the Rio games and will “not hesitate to punish anyone within its reach responsible for using or providing doping products or methods”.

The IOC’s warning earlier this month extends to officials, coaches and “other members of the athlete’s entourage”.

About 20 Russian athletes are said to have failed retests from the 2008 Beijing games as well as 2012 games in London and they are likely to be banned from competing. But Koneva is trying to stay positive.

“We are trying not to think about it anymore (possible Olympics ban), we are trying to think about something good, but of course, there is worry, fear, but we have to fight to the end,” she said.

She is not the only being optimistic. The men’s world triple jump champion, Lyukman Adams also from Russia is worried but hopes for the best.

“I expect a just decision, because there are no regulations on how many athletes must be disqualified from taking part in competitions, therefore I think IAAF will make the right decision and will not make a colossal mistake of banning the entire national team from taking part in the Olympics.”

With their fate still hanging in the balance, the athletes have not given up training, even if it means they can only compete in the Russian national championships.

“The team is currently preparing for the Russian championship. The mood is ordinary, there is no international competition mood, because for almost a year we’ve been barred from taking part in international competitions” Adams said.

“At the moment we are all waiting for this one day (June 17 – when the decision on Russia’s Olympics participation will be announced). After that the mood will either get better or not.”

The IOC will however have the final say in the matter at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 21.

But with the IOC having promised to save clean athletes from unfair competition, it is highly unlikely that the Russian ban will be overturned by the IOC if it is not lifted by the IAAF at its meeting on Friday.

Russia together with Kenya and Mexico have however been targeted by the International Olympic Committee for pre-Olympics doping tests.