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Russian teams leave Moscow for Rio Olympic


07-29-2016 06:26 BJT

The main squad of Russia's national team is on its way to Rio de Janeiro to take part in this year's Olympic Games. Russia had originally selected 387 athletes, but more than 100 of them will miss the games after a doping scandal. The International Olympic Committee has imposed strict criteria for athletes to prove they are clean while individual sporting federations were tasked to clear Russian athletes.

Team spirit, laughter and hopes of Olympic glory. This is a special sendoff ceremony for the Russian team at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

"We are quite nervous. We haven’t seen our competitors yet, the Chinese competitors. So we don’t know what program they will show. But we have been working hard and we are ready to show our full potential," Elena Prokofieva with Russian Naitonal Olympic Swimming Team said.

It has been a nerve-racking few weeks for the Russian athletes as the participation of the whole team in Rio was in jeopardy after more revelations in the doping scandal.

The team was initially scheduled to leave for Brazil on 22 July. But the departure was postponed until the International Olympic Committee’s decision following the so-called McLaren report which found evidence of state-sponsored doping programmes. The IOC decided against a blanket ban and left it up to individual international sporting federations to approve Russian athletes.

Russia had selected 387 sportsmen and women for the Games. But that number is depleted by more than 100 athletes already, including the whole track and field team who lost their appeal against a Rio ban, several swimmers, rowers and others, who had past doping offences or have been implicated in the McLaren report. Moscow has vowed to fight for the right of its clean track and field stars to participate in the Games.

"Why is Elena Isinbayeva deprived of her right to compete? It’s her fifth Olympics, she is finishing her career. She became a mother but why doesn’t she have a chance? Why a guy who became a world champion, Sergey Shubenkov, is excluded too. What for? For setting a world record and for being clean from doping? It’s unfair," Vice president of Russian Olympic Commmittee Vladmir Vasin said.

The public in Russia will be relieved that some of the most successful Russian teams, like synchronised swimmers and gymnasts, are clear to compete at the Games. However, the fate of some of its athletes is still hanging in the balance as the final list of Russian competitors has still not been approved.

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