You will not see the Russian flag above the podiums but the national colors are on the uniforms. Old and new doping cases still cast a shadow over the team after two rowers tested positive last month.
This time it is not Russia, nor even the Olympic athletes from Russia. It’s the Russian Olympic Committee.
Officially, the athletes will not represent their country, but the ROC, as well as the name, flag and anthem of Russia are prohibited. Critics point out that it will be difficult to tell the difference when Russian teams wear the national colors.
The new rules – an evolution of the “SRO” restrictions used at the 2018 Winter Olympics – are a confusing patchwork of dos and don’ts.
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Russian red, white and blue on uniforms look good – color blocks on official tracksuits form a large flag – but not the word “Russia”, the flag itself, or other national symbols. The artistic swim team said they can no longer wear costumes with a bear design.
Official Olympic documents and television graphics will attribute Russian results to “ROC” but will not spell out the name of the Russian Olympic Committee in full. The gold medalists will receive music by Russian composer Tchaikovsky instead of the country’s national anthem.
Almost at full power
Despite the name change, Russia will have an almost complete squad at the Olympics after sending exhausted teams to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics and Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games.
This time, only athletics and weightlifting will place limits on the size of the Russian team. These are the two sports with the highest number of doping cases -om Russia and elsewhere – during the last Olympics. Russian officials have selected a 10-person track team that includes three world champions.
Russia is sending more than 330 athletes to Tokyo, with the exact number still unclear due to uncertainty surrounding the rowing team. That’s about 50 more than in 2016, when doping restrictions hit the hardest in several sports, but it’s still the second lowest number since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. L The team ranges from 16-year-old gymnast Viktoria Listunova to 56. -years old, dressage rider Inessa Merkulova.
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The ROC team are targeted to finish third in medals and gold medals are expected in Russia’s usual strongest sports like gymnastics, artistic swimming, wrestling, fencing and judo.
Only Russian athletes in track and field had to undergo a special background check for drug testing or possible involvement in past cover-ups. World Athletics has its own sanctions against Russia, including an “Authorized Neutral Athlete” certification program. Only athletes with this status were eligible for Tokyo.
Weightlifting has its own system of doping sanctions, limiting the size of teams based on past wrongdoing. Russia can register a man and a woman for Tokyo, but is avoiding outright Olympic weightlifting bans imposed on the most persistent offenders like Thailand and Romania.
The latest rules on Russia’s name and image were set last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a decision that hardly anyone satisfied.
As is often the case with Russia, the sanctions are not so much about doping as they are about cover-ups.
Just as Russia patched up its relationship with the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2019 by allowing it access to Moscow anti-doping laboratory files, WADA investigators spotted strange anomalies in the data. Evidence has been removed and false information added, including bogus messages designed to tarnish the name of WADA’s star witness, former laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov.
WADA said the changes were made as the lab was shut down by a Russian law enforcement agency. Russia has denied any wrongdoing.
The CAS decision has been hailed as a partial victory for Russia, whose initial four-year sanction has been reduced to two. He was criticized by some anti-doping figures who wanted neutral-colored uniforms at the Olympics and tighter screening to ensure doping suspects could not compete.
CAS authorizes 2 Russian swimmers to compete
Russia was back in court ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, but on a smaller scale than its major legal battles of 2016 and 2018.
Two Russian swimmers who have been provisionally suspended by FINA for doping violations have been allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
The world governing body had recently taken action against Alexandr Kudashev and Veronika Andrusenko over evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into data from the former Moscow anti-doping laboratory. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport authorized the two swimmers on Sunday, according to FINA.
No evidence had previously been provided against the swimmers when WADA pursued the most serious cases resulting from its doping investigation in Russia, but WADA brought the information to FINA’s attention. , said the swimming body.
“We had a duty to ensure a quick and careful follow-up of the material provided,” said the new president of FINA, Husain Al-Musallam, in a statement. “We will respect and apply the CAS decision. “
Kudashev and Andrusenko will swim for the Russian Olympic Committee. Russia is not allowed to compete as a country in Tokyo due to doping issues detected by WADA.
Andrusenko will compete in his third Olympics. Kudashev will swim in his first Games.
Russia last week removed two rowers from its Tokyo squad after revealing that they both tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in June. This prompted Russia to withdraw from the men’s quadruple scull competition when it became clear that a replacement boat was not competitive.