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FIG Supports Russian Gymnasts at Rio
(13 votes, average 3.46 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) called for Russia's gymnasts to not face any ban from the Olympic Games following the release of the McClaren Report on Monday that alleged widespread doping in Russian sport. Pictured: World and Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) called for Russia's gymnasts to not face any ban from the Olympic Games following the release of the McClaren Report on Monday that alleged widespread doping in Russian sport.

The report, prepared by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), alleged that the Russian Sports Ministry facilitated doping and tampering of doping samples, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia has already been banned from competing in track & field events at the Olympic Games in Rio, the sport most affected by the doping. WADA and multiple nations have called on Russia to be banned entirely from the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, concerning the FIG.

"FIG is concerned about the increasing number of officials asking for a blanket ban of Russian athletes to participate at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio," the FIG said in a statement. "Whilst FIG fully supports the IOC's policy of 'Zero Tolerance in Doping,' it strongly feels that not all Russian athletes of all sports should be banned and found guilty for actions in other sports and federations."

According to the McClaren Report, in addition to allegations of sample switching in Sochi, Moscow's main anti-doping control laboratory participated in a "Disappearing Positive Methodology" for Russian athletes. From 2012 to 2015, 643 positive samples were falsified under this method, the report stated. The report listed the 10 sports that most benefited as athletics (139 cases), weightlifting (117), non-Olympic sports (37), Paralympic sport (35), wrestling (28), canoe (27), cycling (26), skating (24), swimming (18) and ice hockey (14). No gymnasts were included among the athletes who reportedly benefited from this scheme.

Gymnastics is not a sport that has been plagued by doping scandals. The only gymnast stripped of an Olympic medal after a positive test for doping was Romania's Andreea Raducan, who lost her all-around gold medal in 2000 after testing positive for pseudoephedrine, a substance found in cold medicine that is no longer on the banned substance list.

Several gymnasts have faced sanctions after testing positive for diuretics, which in itself is not a performance-enhancing drug, but is banned because it can be used to mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. Diuretics have a history of use by gymnasts for water weight loss, particularly among rhythmic gymnasts. Vietnam's Thi Ngan Thuong Do (2008) and Uzbekistan's Luiza Galiulina (2012) were expelled from the Olympics after positive tests for diuretics. Brazil's Daiane dos Santos faced a competition ban in 2009 for use of diuretics.

The only other significant medal stripped in artistic gymnastics for a positive doping test was the case of Spain's Gervasio Deferr, whose silver medal on floor exercise at the 2002 World Championships was yanked after he tested positive for marijuana.

"Artistic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Trampoline athletes cannot be judged based on other sports," the FIG statement read. "Before any actions are taken against FIG's athletes, facts must be presented and doping offenses must be proven. FIG's Russian gymnasts have been subject to controls equal to those of our other leading gymnastics federations. Clean Russian gymnasts must therefore be allowed to compete at the Games."

FIG president Bruno Grandi said Olympic participation should not be "stolen" from the Russian gymnasts because of doping in other sports.

"The rights of every individual athlete must be respected," Grandi said. "Participation at the Olympic Games is the highest goal of athletes who often sacrifice their entire youth to this aim. The right to participate at the Games cannot be stolen from an athlete, who has duly qualified and has not be found guilty of doping. Blanket bans have never been and will never be just."

Last week, as speculation mounted in advance of the report, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach of Germany also appeared against a blanket ban.

"It is obvious you cannot sanction a badminton player for an infringement of the rules by an official or a lab director at the Winter Games," Bach said. "In the same way we would not consider sanctioning all athletes from a particular sport if there is manipulation of the rules by the leadership of a federation. What we have to do is take decisions based on facts and to find the right balance between a collective responsibility and individual justice."

On Monday, Bach called the findings in the report a "shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport" and pledged to pursue "the toughest possible sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated." The IOC Executive Board had planned to next meet on August 3, two days before the Olympics begin in Rio, but scheduled an emergency telephone meeting for Tuesday to discuss "provisional measures and sanctions."

External Link: Download McClaren Report from WADA

Comments (2)add comment

SomeoneElse said:

What if?
Wonder what would happen if Russia were banned from the gymnastics competition? It would be too late to bump Australia up as a competing team on the women's side, but what about individuals who didn't qualify? Interesting.
July 18, 2016
Votes: +0

Willard Felsen said:

This is the kind of story (among other kinds) for which I subscribe to IG.

By the way, Ms. Turner might have pointed out (in her §4) that "athletics" is IOC-speak for track & field.
July 19, 2016
Votes: +0

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