Opinion divided on Russian Olympic ban

by

July 22, 2016

LONDON, England:

While not everyone has supported the move, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has backed strong action against drug cheats in the wake of the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) decision to reject an appeal by Russia against an IAAF ban of its athletes for the Rio Olympic Games.

The decision follows revelation of a systematic State-led doping regime in Russia and Bolt, who is set to compete in the 200m at the Muller Anniversary Games - the London Diamond League today, believes its important that a strong message be sent by the authorities to protect the sport.

"I have no big reaction to it, its sad but rules are rules. I don't make the rules so I just have to go along with it," Bolt offered.

"If you have the proof and you catch someone (cheating), I definitely feel that you should take action and if you feel that banning the whole team is the right action, I am all for it because as I said rules are rules and doping violations in track and field is getting very bad."

The Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes had lobbied CAS, arguing that a ban on all athletes - even those who have not returned a positive drug test, was unfair and would cripple the sport.

"If you cheat I always think it's a good message to show that if you cheat or go against the rules then serious action will be taken. This scares a lot of people and sends a strong message to let everyone know that we are serious, so I definitely think so," Bolt added.

Bolt, however, stressed that he is more concerned about maintaining his focus going into the Olympics, referring to the Russian situation and other Olympics - related headlines such as the health issues around the Zika Virus as 'sideshows'.

Dutch speedster Dafne Schippers, the world champion over 200m was in agreement with Bolt.

"I think its important to have a clean sport and its clear that the authorities are working hard towards achieving that. That's all we can really say at the moment," Schippers said.

However, French pole vault star Renaud Lavillenie is not convinced that banning the entire Russian team was the best option.

"It's a very hard situation, its focused right now on Russia and athletics but its (doping problem) in every sport in every country and so maybe they need to take a bigger decision except just banning maybe some clean athletes from Russia," said Lavillenie.

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