Athletics: Kick out Russians - Adams

Valerie Adams wants Russia banned from track and field at the Rio Olympics.

Adams has suffered as much as any athlete from this scourge of the sport. She was 'defeated' by Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk at the London Games, only for her opponent to be unveiled as a drugs cheat. Adams missed the honour
of receiving her gold medal in the Olympic stadium.

"I'm open to it," Adams said of Russia's potential expulsion. "People talk about 'the innocent athletes' but it's bigger than that. If you don't hold a chicken by its neck and tell it to stop, then you'll never sort the situation out.

"If people high up the ranks of a federation are helping with this naughtiness, you can't clean the sport up. They have been given guidelines and things they must do to get the suspension taken away."

Valerie Adams was initially forced to settle for silver at the London Olympics until 'winner' Nadzeya Ostapchuk was exposed as a drugs cheat. Photo / AP
Valerie Adams was initially forced to settle for silver at the London Olympics until 'winner' Nadzeya Ostapchuk was exposed as a drugs cheat. Photo / AP

Adams said until then, Russia have much work to do, as her focus turns to pursuing an unprecedented third gold in as many Games.

"I have no sympathy whatsoever," said Adams, who left New Zealand this week with new husband Gabriel Price to train in Switzerland. "I've been done over myself because of drug cheats, and competed against drug cheats at the start and middle of my career.

"I think this is an issue which means Russia - and the rest of the world - needs to realise they must clean up their act. This is some serious s**t. It's unfair athletes from outside that country have to fight against this.

"People might think I'm heartless and cold, but that's sport. It's competitive and you've got to do what's best for you. It's not because it's my fault. It's their fault."

Adams' frustration is understandable. She is the only woman to win four consecutive shot put world championships, but historically her best performances rank with the also-rans.

The 31-year-old is one of two female shot putters who have won back-to-back Olympic titles. The other was Soviet Tamara Press in 1960 and 1964. Yet Adams, with access to the wonders of modern sports science, remains 23rd on the all-time list for distance.

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Her 21.24m best was set at the 2011 world championships in South Korea. The 22.63m world record, set by Soviet Natalya Lisovskaya at Moscow in June 1987, remains 1.39m beyond her reach.

The World Anti-Doping Agency pressed charges against Russia's track and field federation in November, after their athletes and officials were accused of masking a doping regime.

Russia was suspended by track and field's governing body, the IAAF, and their sporting bosses have since sought to mitigate the circumstances. If the suspension is not lifted or overturned at a full disciplinary hearing, Russian athletes face a Rio Games ban because their regime authorised state-sanctioned doping.

Russia initially denied the doping accusations by former 800m runner Yulia Stepanova and her husband Vitali, which were broadcast in a German television documentary last year.

Russian anti-doping agency boss Nikita Kamaev described the claims as "wanton speculation" and sports minister Vitaly Mutko called it a ploy to "belittle Russian sport".

President Vladimir Putin was recruited to suture the haemorrhaging of their reputation.

Russia has worn a significant proportion of blame in the interim.

They are not alone, though. Kenya is being investigated for breaching the world anti-doping code, and could be declared non-compliant after missing their government's April 5 deadline to legislate for a new anti-doping agency. That has been extended to May 2. Miss that, and they could miss the Games.

Like Russia, Kenya's doping record is under severe scrutiny. Close to 40 of their runners have failed drugs tests since the country's anti-doping programme deficiencies were highlighted in 2012.

Senior Kenyan track and field officials have been accused of corruption and cover-ups.

The officials deny wrongdoing.

Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia and Ukraine have joined Russia in being declared non-compliant with the anti-doping code.

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Meanwhile, Adams is set to be the lead athlete in Visa's global Olympic advertising campaign ahead of its other sponsored superstars.

She travelled to Los Angeles after the world indoor championships in Portland for a shoot and loved the experience of a full day of Hollywood-style pampering.

"I even had my own big caravan to prepare in and a driver who the week before had been ferrying Leonardo Di Caprio around," she joked.

The recently married Adams added the public often didn't understand how much sponsor support meant to leading athletes.

"For example, I've recently just completed 10 years of being sponsored by the good folk at Visa, and we're still together. That's a long time for an athlete and I am so grateful to them."

- Herald on Sunday

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