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‘Handful’ of Russians denied place at Olympics over doping suspicions

A handful of Russian athletes were denied entry to the Olympic Games after they were suspected of doping.

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Friday that the agency intervened to prevent several Russians from competing, based on data from a Moscow testing laboratory that was closed in 2015.

The lab was implicated in the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal that marred the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and prevented many athletes from going to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“It wasn’t particularly difficult,” said WADA CEO Olivier Niggli. “There weren’t many, but there were a handful, I would say, athletes who would potentially still participate in the Games, and we would qualify them as strong (database).

“And none of them are here,” Niggli said. “They won’t compete.”

The database and samples from the long-sealed laboratory were finally handed over in 2019 to WADA, which prepared and submitted about 300 potential cases to the Olympic sports governing bodies.

WADA investigators discovered that the database was altered while it was in the hands of Russian law enforcement agencies. The information was altered and removed, and the fake emails attempted to expose laboratory staff who became informants.

Ban on the nationality of Russia

The database scandal led to the banning of Russia’s national identity at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

335 athletes accredited in Tokyo officially compete for the ROC, the abbreviated name for the Russian Olympic Committee. The word “Russia” is prohibited on their uniforms.

Gold medalists from Russia will hear on the podium not their national anthem, but the familiar piano work of Tchaikovsky.

The Olympic flag of Russia will be raised, not the national flag with white, blue and red horizontal stripes.

A panel of three judges from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) imposed a two-year sentence in December. Initially, WADA requested four years.

One concession from CAS is to allow Russian uniforms to be white, red and blue, the colors of the country’s national flag.

Russians were not allowed to wear their colors at the last two World Championships in Athletics, and WADA has demanded a neutral uniform at the Olympics.

WADA expressed disappointment with the CAS verdict at a press conference on Friday in Tokyo.

“We gave our arguments, we have a solution, it is,” Niggli later told AP.

“CAS decided it went too far, it was unfair to a generation of athletes who had nothing to do with what happened in the past,” Niggli said. “The overwhelming majority of the delegation that arrived here from Russia consists of athletes who did not participate in competitions in 2012, 2013, 2014.”

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