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New Zealand Olympic Committee react to Russian ban delay

NZOC Secretary General Kereyn Smith. Photo / Getty Images
NZOC Secretary General Kereyn Smith. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee have put their normally velvet diplomatic fist into an iron glove in demanding Russia's expulsion from the Rio Games which start in 17 days.

This follows yesterday's release of the World Anti-Doping Agency-backed McLaren Report which claimed Russia's state-directed cheating resulted in at least 312 falsified results and lasted from 2011 until at least last year's world swimming championships.

The International Olympic Committee have delayed making a final decision overnight, but reconfirmed their reversal of a 'presumption of innocence' with regard to Russian athletes doping.

A statement from the NZOC said they support "the exploration of legal options with regard to a collective ban of Russian athletes and... notes that the upcoming CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport] decision on the IAAF [athletics governing body's] wholesale sanctioning of the Russian Athletics Federation will be pivotal."

The CAS hearing to test the legality of the IAAF ban will be heard tomorrow.

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NZOC secretary-general Kereyn Smith elaborated further this morning.

"We're totally supportive of the IOC steps to address this issue, which I would put in the 'unbelievable and shocking' category. I never thought in my lifetime I would see such a systemic falsification of records and cheating by a country whose approach has caused major disruption and disappointment for athletes around the world.

"All the levers at the IOC's disposal have been activated. It's a complex issue to ban a country, but we're delighted to see they're considering it.

"What we want is for the IOC to take the toughest measures available within the legal framework."

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Smith endorsed the strong responses by a number of New Zealand athletes, including Olympic champions Valerie Adams and Mahe Drysdale.

"We're comfortable and completely support them doing so. It adds weight to the call for action.

"Specifically we [the NZOC] don't have a say [in proceedings] but we trust the IOC actions are appropriate through the disciplinary process."

Smith acknowledged time was of the essence, especially if athletes like the New Zealand men's quadruple scullers had to be recalled from the training ground at late notice.

The quad are on the cusp of redemption after a Russian crew member tested positive for the banned drug trimetazidine after an out-of-competition test on May 17. Russia's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is yet to be heard.

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Other New Zealanders who could be affected include:

- The men's and women's rowing eights. Russia finished fifth, behind New Zealand but qualifying for Rio, in both events at last year's world championships.

- Pole vaulter Eliza McCartney. World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva took a break for motherhood in 2014 after winning the world championships the previous year. She set an Olympic qualifying mark of 4.90m (at home) last month, the highest outdoor vault this year. Compatriot Anzhelika Sidorova also vaulted 4.85m. McCartney's personal best is 4.80m. She is ranked seventh outdoors in 2016.

- The men's track cyclists. At March's world championships in London, Russia finished third in the individual sprint, fifth in the team pursuit and seventh in the team sprint.​

- NZ Herald

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