Titov: Russians Cleared to Compete in Rio
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The Russian gymnasts have all been cleared to compete by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) at the upcoming Olympic Games, said Vasily Titov, president of the Russian Gymnastics Federation and FIG vice president. Pictured: 2012 Olympian Maria Paseka

The Russian gymnasts have all been cleared to compete by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) at the upcoming Olympic Games, said Vasily Titov, president of the Russian Gymnastics Federation and FIG vice president.

All Russians entrants to the Olympic Games in Rio must first be cleared by their individual sports federations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Sunday after widespread allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia. The IOC issued guidelines to each federation to scrutinize Russian athletes' history of anti-doping controls. No Russian athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping or is mentioned in the bombshell McLaren Report will be allowed to compete in Rio, a requirement that does not impact any gymnasts.

Angelina Melnikova at the 2016 European Championships

Titov said that the Russian gymnastics team, which entered 21 artistic gymnasts, rhythmic gymnasts and trampolinists to this summer's Olympic Games, was approved to compete by the FIG, which has yet to make an official announcement. Each sports federation must submit its list of approved athletes to further arbitrators, who will ensure all criteria have been met. Titov stated that the only question mark is women's team alternate Natalia Kapitonova, a first-year senior, as she has never undergone a doping test outside of Russia.

The IOC was under considerable pressure from multiple international anti-doping agencies to ban Russia entirely from the 2016 Olympic Games after the independent report from Canadian professor Richard McLaren was issued on July 18. The report alleged widespread corruption in Russian sports at the state level, including tampering with doping samples at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and at a Moscow lab used by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, several federations, including the FIG, urged the IOC to not issue a blanket ban that would punish clean athletes. On Sunday, the IOC ruled it would not ban all Russian athletes from the Olympics based only on allegations, but would demand additional requirements for Russian athletes in Rio, including extensive doping tests.

The Russian gymnastics team, the first of Russia's athletes to depart for Rio de Janeiro, took off from Moscow on Sunday morning and learned the IOC's decision only when they landed in Brazil.

Despite the good news for the gymnasts, the outlook for the women's team is bleak thanks to injuries to top gymnasts Angelina Melnikova and Maria Paseka, coach Valentina Rodionenko said Wednesday. Melnikova, the 2016 Russian national champion, has been struggling with a hamstring injury, and though she is expected to compete, she will be forced to water down her routines. Paseka, a member of Russia's silver-medal team from the 2012 Olympics and the reigning world champion on vault, injured her back in practice and is questionable.

The Russian women's team already lost Olympians and world champions Viktoria Komova, who has been sidelined with a back injury, and Ksenia Afanasyeva, who underwent yet another ankle surgery in June and was recently hospitalized with kidney stones.

"The injuries on the women's team are just snowballing," Rodionenko told TASS news agency. "With Paseka's back problems, the doctors will observe her until August 3 to determine if she can participate. The problem is we have no more vaulters (among the alternates) who can replace her."

The gymnastics competition begins August 6 in Rio de Janeiro.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

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