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Lawmakers: Suspension of all Russian track and field athletes from Olympics unacceptable

June 21, 2016, 11:23 UTC+3

The final decision on the participation of the Russian track and field athletes at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will be made later on Tuesday

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Russian athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics

Russian athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics

© AP Photo/Sergei Grits, file

MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, adopted a statement at a plenary meeting on Tuesday voicing protest against the possible suspension of Russian track and field athletes from the Summer Olympics in Brazil who did not use doping.

The MPs say they are convinced that the use of doping by athletes of any country needs to be condemned in the most severe way and that’s why their suspension from sports competitions of any level is a "rather fair and proper punishment."

"However, the use of repressions against those athletes who have never been caught in an unfair game is not only an unjust decision, according to the State Duma, but this also undermines first of all the basis of the Olympic movement," says the document authored by Pavel Krasheninnikov, who heads the committee on civilian, criminal arbitration and procedural legislation.

The document stresses that the suspension of Russian athletes, including those who are well-known due to their achievements in sport, from the Olympic Games "in revenge for the behavior of their dishonest colleagues is a direct violation of human rights."

The final decision on the participation of the Russian track and field athletes at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will be made at the summit of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland’s Lausanne later on Tuesday.

The document expresses hope that "in the end, common sense will prevail over emotions and an unbiased and adequate decision in the current situation will be taken that does not put in question the ideals and goals of the Olympic movement and the entire high-level sport."

Presumption of guilt

The State Duma says that the time when sport was used as a tool of political struggle with boycotts announced for competitions due to political differences seems to be in the past, "but today someone tries to draw this political weapon with the smell of naphthalene out from the rubbish bin of history."

"The ban on participation in the Olympic Games, especially in individual sports, for athletes who did not even tarnish themselves with a suspicion of using doping cannot be explained by any other motives. In fact, some sports bureaucrats introduce the principle of presumption of guilt against athletes of a particular country," the statement says.

The lawmakers warn that this principle that was "used only during the time of Inquisition and totalitarian regimes" can hardly be considered appropriate today. "Such an approach can only bring in discord and distrust both among athletes of various countries and among their citizens and ruin fine achievements of the Olympic movement and high-level sport."

"Huge efforts made during the four-year preparation for participation in this holiday of sport turn to be senseless and strip athletes of motivation for work to increase their results and cause an irreparable moral trauma to them," the document reads.

Last Friday at its session in Vienna, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decided to keep in force the suspension of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) membership in the global athletics body citing the Russian organization’s failure to implement the previously set requirements. The suspension means that Russian track and field athletes are currently ineligible to take part in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

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