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Rowing: Russia rort costs men's coxless four spot at Olympics

Abdication of responsibility for doping scandal claims another Kiwi rowing crew.
New Zealand Rowing Men's Coxless Four - Anthony Allen, Patrick McInnes, Axel Dickinson and Drikus Conradie. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand Rowing Men's Coxless Four - Anthony Allen, Patrick McInnes, Axel Dickinson and Drikus Conradie. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The men's coxless four rowers are the latest New Zealand athletes to be punished by the International Olympic Committee's abdication of responsibility over Russia's systemic doping.

If Russia had suffered a blanket ban after the well-documented revelations of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the crew of Drikus Conradie, Axel Dickinson, Paddy McInnes and Anthony Allen would have claimed the 13th and final spot in the class at the Rio Olympics.

Eleven crews - including the 10th placed Russians - qualified at last year's world championships. The New Zealanders finished fourth at the final qualification regatta in May.

On Monday, the New Zealand Olympic Committee endorsed the IOC's stance with these statements:

"The impact of the Russian state-sanctioned doping programme has been widespread and shocking and the IOC has taken the strongest possible measures.

The complexities of the matter cannot be understated and the New Zealand Olympic Committee is satisfied the IOC has considered the issues with the utmost care, balancing individual justice with collective responsibility.

"The New Zealand Olympic Committee underscores the importance of protecting clean athletes and upholding integrity in sport."

This hand-wringing from the IOC and NZOC is part of a narrative that effectively cost Conradie, Dickinson, McInnes and Allen their Games dream as they train in desperation on Lake Karapiro.

Rowing NZ CEO Simon Peterson said there was a sense of relief within the New Zealand camp that a decision had been made.

"Obviously they [Conradie, Dickinson, McInnes and Allen] are disappointed, but there is also a sense of relief this has gone on for far too long, and I think the lack of leadership around some of these decisions has led to a process that was very tough on some of our athletes."

Rowing's governing body FISA announced 22 Russian rowers were ineligible for Rio. The lightweight men's four and pair and men's and women's eights were withdrawn. None of the 28 athletes entered on July 18 had tested positive in the past five years, but they did not meet conditions established by the IOC when they devolved responsibility to individual sporting bodies.

Six Russian rowers are still eligible to field a men's four.

None of the Russians who originally qualified the boat at Lake Aiguebelette are eligible for Rio. Only one in this year's selected crew, Georgij Efremenko, is part of the eligible six.

Of Russia's 387-strong Rio team, yesterday 282 remained in contention to compete at Rio. Unsurprisingly the International Judo Federation, whose honorary president is Russian leader Vladimir Putin, approved the country's 11-strong team.

- NZ Herald

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