Australian Olympic chief John Coates yesterday welcomed a ban on Russian track and field athletes from the Rio Olympics amid doping claims, and said other sports could be next.
“I’m very happy with it,” Coates said after world athletics governing body IAAF on Friday voted unanimously to maintain the ban against the Russian athletics federation.
The IAAF left the door ajar for some of the country’s athletes to compete in Brazil as neutrals but Coates, a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said he expected “there will be some pretty high hurdles there”.
“Where I would sit (would be) athletes should have to establish that they have had samples collected by an anti-doping authority outside of Russia and that they have been analysed outside of Russia and on a regular basis,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“Clearly any analysis or any collections in Russia would not mean anything.”
Coates, who this week slammed Russia’s anti-doping agency and athletics body as “rotten to the core”, said it was possible that more of the country’s sporting federations could face bans.
“Overnight I’ve also read some allegations in respect of Russian swimming so FINA will no doubt be looking at that,” Coates said referring to that sport’s governing body.
“And I also anticipate that the international weightlifting federation will be taking a serious look at Russia and maybe some other former Soviet republics in respect of multiple positives coming out of the retesting.”
Coates said an IOC meeting this week would discuss the athletics ban but said he would be surprised if it overturned the IAAF decision.
Athletics Australia applauded the IAAF’s move, saying it had made the right decision to help ensure a level playing field for all athletes in Rio.
Chief executive Phil Jones said his organisation would only welcome athletes to compete neutrally if they could prove a history of World Anti-Doping Authority code compliance under “the strictest of conditions”.
“The Russian Athletics Federation has failed these individuals over many years and, for this reason, we condone taking steps to ensure that they are not punished for the systemic doping regime in which they did not take part,” he said in a statement.
Australian race walker Jared Tallent, who was Friday awarded a London 2012 Olympics gold medal after being promoted from silver following a Russian doping case, also welcomed the decision as positive for the sport.
“It will change the way the races in my event particularly are raced,” he said at the press conference with Coates.
“Athletes who probably never held any chance before of winning a medal will now believe they have got a chance,” he added.
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