First the Russian track and field team was barred. Then most of the Russian rowing squad was told to stay home. Now the Russian weightlifters are all out.
The International Olympic Committee decided on July 24 not to ban the entire Russian team, consisting of nearly 400 athletes, from the Summer Games that open Friday in Rio de Janeiro. But the IOC did tell the various sporting federations to take a close look at the Russians, and as they’ve done that, the number of ineligible Russians kept rising.
The International Weightlifting Federation barred all eight Russian weightlifters last Friday, the most recent additions to the already long list. The federation said the doping results from the Russians were “extremely shocking and disappointing.”
Altogether, more than 110 Russian Olympians have been banned. With the games just days away, that number appears to be more or less final.
Doping has been a chronic problem at the Olympics, and the IOC began drug tests at the 1968 Games. Since that time, 119 athletes from all the competing nations have tested positive for banned substances at the Summer Games.
That figure covers athletes who were detected at the Olympics, and does not include athletes who were barred in advance, as has happened with the Russians this year. Still, the number of Russian athletes banned this year far surpasses any previous episode.
The Russians have tried to put a positive spin on this. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko declared last Friday that 272 Russian athletes have been cleared to compete in Rio.
Track, rowing and weightlifting hit hardest
Of those banned, 68 are members of the track and field team, which was barred as a group because of the widespread, state-run doping program that’s been in place for years, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The lone exception is Darya Klishina, a long jumper who trains — and has been tested — in the United States.
The Russians will also be scarce in rowing, where 22 of the 28 rowers and coxswains have been barred by the The World Rowing Federation.
The rowing federation said that none of the 22 had tested positive for banned substances, but they were being tested time and again at the Moscow lab that’s been implicated in falsifying test results, according to the anti-doping agency.
The 22 “are not at all considered to have participated in doping, but do not meet the conditions established by the IOC in their decision of 24 July 2016 for participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” the federation said.
In general, athletes who need explosive speed, raw power and great endurance are more likely to be flagged — think track and field, weightlifting and rowing.
Meanwhile, those relying on more precise skills, like gymnastics, archery and fencing, are likely to be at the Rio Games.
Here’s how some other Russian sports have fared, according to Around The Rings, an online publication devoted to Olympic coverage:
— Seven of 67 swimmers, divers and water polo players have been banned.
— Five of 23 athletes in canoeing have been declared ineligible.
— The entire gymnastics team, consisting of 21 athletes, has been cleared to compete.