12:54 GMT13 June 2021
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    Banning Russia's entire athletics team from taking part in the 2016 Rio Games was a politically motivated decision, Italian MP Gianluca Pini told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Northern League MP Gianluca Pini lashed out at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)'s decision to reject Russia's appeal of a doping ban on the country's athletics team which barred them from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    He slammed the move as an "act of political sabotage against Russia… and a sign of fear felt by certain international circles with respect to political strongman [Russian President] Putin."

    "Against the background of responsible and courageous self-criticism on the Russian side and given that errors were made by individuals rather than the Russian Olympic Committee as such, the CAS's decision can be seen as an act of political sabotage against Russia. We are witnessing the use of force applied through sports," he said.

    Instead of cooperating with Russia on fighting Daesh, the West tries to keep Moscow at a distance, which is also madness, Pini said, blaming the West's attempts to use sports in order to distance itself from Russia.

    He was echoed by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said that a campaign launched against the Russian athletes deals a blow to the whole Olympic Movement.

    In this vein, she praised economist and political commentator Paul Craig Roberts, drawing attention to the fact that Washington is doing its best to isolate Russia.

    His article, titled "Washington is politicizing the Olympics: ongoing attempts to ban Russia. Geopolitical implications" was published by Global Research, an opinion website.

    "We could conclude that Washington wants hegemony in sports just as it does in foreign affairs, and wants Russian athletes out of the way so that Americans can win more medals. But this would be to miss the real point of Washington's campaign against Russia. The 'doping scandal' is part of Washington's ongoing efforts to isolate Russia and to build opposition to Putin inside Russia," he pointed out.

    The view is also shared by Nikolai Alyokhin, who won the gold medal in the saber-fencer team event at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. According to him, banning the men's national rowing and canoeing team of Belarus from participating in the Rio Games was a purely political decision aimed at eliminating competitors.

    "As far as I know, our rowers had never faced complaints…All  these doping scandals have been invented in order to sting  Russia, which is also the case with Belarusian rowers, who were thought to be leaders at the Rio Olympics," he said.

    Also standing up for Russian athletes was the head of the Latvian Olympic Committee Aldons Vrublevskis, who admonished the court for politicizing sports events.

    In an interview with Radio Baltkom, he lamented the fact that politics have began to play an increasingly important role in sports, riding roughshod over fans' aspirations and skewing the results of the competition.

    "I think that all those who keep an eye on sports events and the Olympic Games have noticed that politics is playing an-ever increasing role in organizational issues. I wish it failed to affect the best athletes' performance," he said.

    Subscribing to his standpoint is Oleg Fyodorov, world bodybuilding champion and trainer at the Tallinn-based Idakeskus Sports Center, who described the CAS's move as an attempt to put pressure on Russia.

    "I see all this as heinous pressure on the All-Russia Athletics Federation, and the fact is that politics has already penetrated all spheres of life! Previously, politics fully managed to [stay] out of the [equation]," he pointed out in a written interview with Sputnik.

    His stance was supported by a host of prominent Kazakh athletes, including Serik Eleuov, bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games, who sad that the situation surrounding the Russian national team is influenced by political chicanery.

    "I believe that politics had certainly had an impact [on the CAS decision]. Why should America decide on doping-related issues?" he said in an interview with Sputnik.

    Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva
    © AP Photo / Anja Niedringhaus
    The Russian Olympic Committee appealed against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban on Russian athletes participating in international competitions on July 2.

    The IAAF first imposed the ban on the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) last November, and upheld it in June.

    "The CAS rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes," the court said on its website.

    The athletes may submit appeals withing 30 days, the CAS secretary general stated. However the CAS has emphasized that "the door is open" for the International Olympic Committee to decide on Russian athletes' participation in the Olympics.


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    competition, use of force, sports, sabotage, ban, athletes, decision, CAS, Russia
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