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Minister: Russian national team to fight for top places at 2016 Olympics

July 15, 21:35 UTC+3
Russian Sports Minister believes that 67 Russian track-and-field athletes banned from the 2016 Olympic Games should be able to compete in Rio because they had not violated any anti-doping rules
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© AP Photo/David J. Phillip

OZERETSKOYE /Moscow region/, July 15 /TASS/. The Russian national Olympic team will compete for top places at the Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told athletes at a meeting held at the "Ozero Krugloye" (round lake) camp, where Russian national teams in various sports train, on Friday.

"We hope that the Russian national team will fight for top places at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The team has potential. It has many experienced athletes whose average age is 26 years old. I think that Russian athletes will be able to fight for the Olympic medals in 20 sports," Mutko said.

The Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro will take place on August 5-21, 2016. The Russian National Olympic team is to prepare its final Olympic bid before July 22. According to Mutko, about 390 athletes, including track-and-field athletes, will represent Russia at the Olympics.

Mutko believes that 67 Russian track-and-field athletes banned from the 2016 Olympic Games should be able to compete in Rio because they had not violated any anti-doping rules.

"We proceed from the fact that all our athletes who submitted individual bids have passed all the selection criteria. A British anti-doping organization took their blood samples three times. They were under constant control. They all have their files and have not violated anything. They ought to have broken some rules in order to be banned from the Olympics but they did not violate anything," Mutko told athletes at a meeting held at the "Ozero Krugloye" (round lake) camp where Russian national teams train.

Last Sunday, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), turned down the individual bids of 139 Russian track-and-field athletes for international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Darya Klishina, who has been training abroad in recent years, was the only one allowed to participate in the Olympics.

The Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian track-and-field athletes (including Klishina) appealed to the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 3 demanding the cancellation of some of the criteria, which the IAAF uses to test Russian athletes. The Court will hear the case on July 19 and will announce its decision before July 21.

In accordance with the IAAF decision of June 17, 2016, Russian athletes will be allowed to the participate in the Olympic Summer Games in Rio only if they prove that they had not links to the Russian anti-doping system and doping scandals.

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