Russians await CAS ruling on Olympic track ban
ZHUKOVSKY, Russia (AP):
Long jumper Ekaterina Koneva says she'll cry. World hurdles champion Sergei Shubenkov says he'll drown his sorrows.
A day before a sports court rules on Russia's appeal against the ban on their track and field team from the Olympics, star Russian athletes at a meet near Moscow pondered how they will react if they lose their case and can't go to Rio de Janeiro.
"What if we are not admitted? What do we do?" asked Koneva, a World Championship silver medallist who would be a contender for gold if allowed to go to Rio. "I hope they will tell us something good."
Shubenkov said: "I will get drunk."
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland will rule today on an appeal filed by Russia's Olympic track and field team of 68 athletes against a ban imposed by the sport's world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.
As it stands, the IAAF has approved just two Russians to compete, as "neutral athletes", after they showed they had been training and living abroad under a robust drug testing regime.
One is doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the other is Florida-based long jumper Darya Klishina, who has received threats online from Russian fans who think she would betray her country by competing if the rest of the team is banned.
Today's ruling is likely to weigh heavily on whether the International Olympic Committee could exclude the entire Russian team across all sports, not just track following new allegations of a vast state-sponsored doping programme that covered many Olympic sports.
Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, issued a report on Monday that accused Russia's sports ministry of orchestrating a vast doping programme that affected 28 summer and winter Olympic sports.
The Russian appeal of the track ban was heard by a CAS panel on Tuesday in Geneva, with two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva on hand to represent the athletes. IAAF President Sebastian Coe also attended the hearing.
Two high-profile sports lawyers presented each side California-based Howard Jacobs for the Russians, and British attorney Jonathan Taylor for the IAAF.
The decision will be closely scrutinised by the IOC, which said on Tuesday that it would "explore the legal options" for a possible total ban on Russia, but would wait until after the CAS ruling before making a final decision.
If the IAAF ban is thrown out and the Russian track athletes are let back in, that would seemingly rule out the IOC imposing a blanket ban. If the ban is upheld, however, it would keep the option open.