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    Vladimir Nazlymov

    USSR Fencer Nazlymov Urges IOC Head to Protect Russia's Olympic Hopefuls

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    Former Olympic fencer Vladimir Nazlymov has written to IOC chief Thomas Bach, with whom he competed at the 1976 Montreal Games, urging him to allow Russian athletes to compete in Rio next month.

    Former Olympic fencer Vladimir Nazlymov has written to fellow fencer Thomas Bach, now president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urging him to allow clean Russian athletes to compete in the Rio Olympics next month.

    ​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, which prevents them from participating in next month's Rio Olympics.

    The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) first imposed the ban on the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) last November because of a doping scandal, then upheld it in June. 

    On July 19 Vladimir Nazlymov, who competed alongside Bach at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, wrote an open letter to his former rival, asking him to allow Russian athletes to compete.

    "We both participated in the 1976 Olympics and were fortunate to come home with medals. We also know that the Olympics is about much more than medals, — the experience of athletes from all over the world qualifying and competing together in the spirit of Pierre de Coubertin," wrote Nazlymov, who competed in four Olympic games.

    "We all agree that anyone who cheats, whether doping or in any other way, should be banned from the Olympics. But we can't impact the lives of innocent athletes with a punishment that they do not deserve."

    "Please protect the rights of those who want nothing more but an opportunity to compete fairly under their nation's flag. Flags don't belong to governing bodies or politicians, — athletes rise their nation's flag out of pride and patriotism."

    Nazlymov, who is now a fencing coach at Ohio State University in the US, told Radio Sputnik that he hopes his former rival Bach will remain true to sentiments he has expressed in the past.

    "He has said in many of his speeches at the Olympic Games that politics has no place at the Olympics. I believe this too," Nazlymov said.

    "Now, he has a hard decision. I want Thomas Bach to do what he feels in his heart, because it's so hard for him. I believe he can protect athletes."

    The IOC, headed by Bach, has been under pressure from some national athletics associations to ban all Russian competitors from the Rio Games, and will hold a board meeting on Sunday.

    On Thursday the IAAF said that it wants Russian athletes to undergo tests outside Russia and then compete as "neutral athletes, not under any country's flag," at the games.

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    Tags:
    athletics, Olympics 2016, ban, Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), International Olympic Committee (IOC), Rio, Russia
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