Russian 'Sporting Rage' at Olympic Injustices Will Power Massive Medal Haul

© AP Photo / David J. PhillipRussian skating fan holds the country's national flag over the Olympic rings before the start of the men's 10,000-meter speedskating race at Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (File)
Russian skating fan holds the country's national flag over the Olympic rings before the start of the men's 10,000-meter speedskating race at Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (File) - Sputnik International
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While some Western observers are disappointed that the IOC did not heed their call for a blanket ban on Russian athletes, many sports figures agree that the presence of clean Russian athletes is important to next month's Rio Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to allow Russian athletes to compete in the Rio Olympics next month has come as a disappointment to the Western press, which has called repeatedly for all Russian competitors to be slapped with a blanket ban, regardless of whether they are clean or not.

On Sunday, the IOC announced that it will not impose a ban on all Russian athletes at the games, which begin August 5. The decision means that each sport's international federation is to decide whether Russian athletes can compete in their discipline.

Russian political commentator Olga Skabeyeva interviewing German journalist Hajo Seppelt. - Sputnik International
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Disappointment at the participation of Russian athletes is evident in London, where the Guardian newspaper had published an editorial calling for an "across-the-board Russian exclusion from Rio."

The Times newspaper not only criticized the IOC decision, but published an open letter "pleading for Russia to be excluded from the Games in Rio de Janeiro next month."

"We have seen medals stolen from clean athletes from Britain," wrote The Times, overlooking the fact a blanket ban would penalize clean Russian athletes, and that according to its own report, "a dozen" British athletes recorded abnormal scores in blood doping analysis leading up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Reports from Japan and Italy were more welcoming to the Russian team. Japan's NHK news agency reported the opinion of Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, who agreed that clean athletes should not be forced to watch from the sidelines.

"I think that sportspeople who use doping have no right to complain even if they are banned from competing for life. However, to me it is strange and really sad when the fallout from a scandal affects others, and when sportsmen who have earned the chance to compete in the Olympics are not allowed to. It's good that the athletes (from the Russia team) are allowed to compete," Uchimura said.

Italian newspaper La Stampa agreed that banning everybody because of the transgressions of a few would be unjust.

"The OIC could not exclude a whole country; too many sportspeople would be unfairly punished. If the OIC can really ban those who concealed the facts about doping at the Olympics, it doesn't make sense to just ban Russians," the newspaper wrote. 

Previously, on July 21, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced it had ruled against 68 Russian athletes in their appeal against an international athletics' ban imposed on them by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The IOC specified that an athlete will only be accepted at the games if he or she has been subjected to reliable adequate international doping tests, and the relevant international federation is satisfied that he or she is a clean athlete

Any Russian athletes who have ever been sanctioned for doping, even if they served bans, are still banned from being entered by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The IOC's decision not to impose a blanket ban was welcomed in Russia; ROC President Alexander Zhukhov called it measured," and while track and field athletes are barred by the IAAF, athletes from other disciplines are hopeful of participation.

© Sputnik / Anton Denisov / Go to the photo bank Russian Olympic team departs for Rio de Janeiro
 Russian Olympic team departs for Rio de Janeiro - Sputnik International
Russian Olympic team departs for Rio de Janeiro
Valentina Rodionenko, head coach of the Russian women's gymnastics team, told Sport Express that her team took some encouragement from the decision.

"For us, the OIC decision is ok. Now we are hoping that our gymnasts calm down after all this," she said.

"After all, they were flying out on the morning of the decision, they were in a heightened state of emotion. Generally, this IOC decision is strange, half-hearted. It seems that was more convenient. I am sure that there won't be any allegations made about our gymnasts," Rodionenko said.

On Thursday, Zhukov said that about 270 Russian athletes have so far been approved, and around 100 are still waiting for a decision on their participation.

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Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev told Sputnik that Russian tennis players will be traveling to Rio, having met the International Tennis Federation criteria. Tarpischev emphasized that no Russian tennis players were named in WADA's recently published McLaren report on doping in Russian sport.

"Russia welcomes the decision to allow clean athletes to participate in the Rio Olympics. Eight Russian tennis players selected for the Olympics have been repeatedly subjected to the most stringent anti-doping program, outside of Russia. That program includes a total of 205 samples collected since 2014, and I think that is absolutely enough to meet the stringent requirements of the IOC executive board," Tarpischev said.

The tennis chief said that the politicized calls for bans on Russian athletes will only motivate Russian sportspeople to win more medals in Rio. 

"We know that foreign athletes who have used doping are being allowed to compete at the Olympics, including some global names who have had issues with doping, like Russians have. Nevertheless, they are allowed to compete, but Russians are not, even if their disqualification ended a long time ago. It is not really a fair situation, so I think that there will be a good sporting spirit among the Russian competitors," Tarpischev said.

"Injustice gives rise to rage in any sportsperson, in the good, sporting sense of the word."

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