Rob Waddell backing strong response against Russia on eve of Rio Olympics

By David Leggat

New Zealand Olympic Chef de Mission Rob Waddell. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand Olympic Chef de Mission Rob Waddell. Photo / Brett Phibbs

New Zealand's Olympic team boss Rob Waddell today joined the chorus of condemnation of Russia's state-run doping programme which has blighted the leadup to the Rio Games.

With the sports world waiting to see what action the International Olympic Committee takes in the wake of the World Aanti Doping Agency's McLaren report, which detailed the scale of Russian organised doping since 2011, former Olympic rowing champion Waddell backs the strongest possible response from the IOC.

''As a former athlete I certainly feel very disappointed to see what's come out," Waddell said from the Rio athletes village today.

''It's certainly fair comment that most of the world is in shock with what's been revealed and that's no different for me. The important thing is it's going through a process, which is has to, and we're watching with interest.

''The general view - and I'm very much aligned to that - is we support the strongest (action) possible. It's really wrong."

There have been no formal meetings to discuss the Russian question but ''there have been some discussions because it's right in front of everyone. But we've been really focused on what we're doing."

Waddell and a team of 10 New Zealand team officials have been hunkering down unpacking three 40 foot containers at the Games village.

New Zealand were among the first teams to arrive in the Games village - along with Canada, Britain, Australia and the United States, who arrived today - and Waddell admitted eyebrows have been raised by the unfinished state of their section of the village.

He did point out that as the apartment blocks have never been lived in, there is an element of final touches to be done.

"It's fair to say there's more work than we expected relevant to the actual apartment complex, so we've had a really busy last couple of days.

"There's an element of going through debugging and getting all the problems sorted out and making sure everything's fine for when the athletes turn up."

A check on basic items such as making sure there are shower curtains and all taps are in place has gone on, with a check on every room ''working on what's here, what's missing and what's working.

"There has been more work than anticipated, understanding the scope and size of things we've had to work through, which is why it's been a busy last 48 hours, but we've made really good progress."

Waddell is expecting part of the large rowing contingent to be the first athletes into the village, with the women's Football Ferns to follow shortly after.

Games regulations mean each National Olympic Committee has been allowed just 10 people in the village until now, but another five are arriving to help with the workload later today (NZT).

"You're starting to see more people in the dining room so we're starting to get a bit of momentum.

"We were one of the first teams to register, we like to get things set up early, but we're starting to see a lot more different tracksuits."

Their close neighbours Ireland are due to arrive in a few hours' time.

- NZ Herald

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