Taking stock: Russian Olympic Games team for Rio de Janeiro stands at 266, says sports minister

The under pressure country, as present, will be represented in 29 disciplines out of 34 following numerous bans over the ongoing doping scandal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 7:36pm

Russia’s sports minister said on Saturday that the national team to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro starting next week so far has 266 competitors, although decisions were still pending on several athletes.

“As of this morning I can say that we will represent 29 disciplines out of 34, with 266 people,” minister Vitaly Mutko said.

Besides 67 track and field athletes banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over revelations of a state-run doping scheme, dozens more have been told that they can’t compete in Brazil, including swimmers, rowers, and wrestlers.

Mutko said that Russia is still expecting to hear final judgement on their swimming team on Saturday.

“In swimming, we announced a team of 35 people, now 26 have passed the selection process,” he said, adding that he expected a final decision “today”.

The US Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday that Olympic medallist Nikita Lobintsev has tested positive for meldonium, the substance banned in the beginning of 2016. He is one of seven swimmers who have been banned from Rio.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on Friday banned the eight strong weightlifting team, saying Russian athletes have to assume collective responsibility following positive results of seven dope tests which have been re-examined from past Olympics.

Mutko slammed the decision, saying the IWF should have let clean athletes compete.

“They should have decided to permit all athletes with spotless reputation (to the Games,)” he said, specifically referring to Oleg Chen and David Berdzhanyan.

The International Olympic Committee resisted a blanket ban on Russia following the most recent explosive report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), who detailed an elaborate doping scheme in Russian sports orchestrated by the government.

Instead the International Olympic Committee left the decision up to the sports federations to vet individual athletes in time for the August 5 opening ceremony.