Canoeing’s governing body has banned five Russians, including a gold medallist and a five-times world champion, from next month’s Rio Olympics after an explosive independent report revealed state-run doping across Russian sport.
“We are clear that if you step out of line you won’t make the start line,” International Canoe Federation secretary general Simon Toulson said, as canoeing became the latest sport to bar Russians from the Games in the fall-out over the roiling doping controversy.
Their exclusion takes the number of Russians banned from taking part in Rio to 18 since Sunday, when the International Olympic Committee decided not to issue a blanket ban on all Russian competitors, instead leaving it up to each sport to decide what to do.
“The International Canoe Federation (ICF) has taken swift action to remove five Russian canoe sprint athletes from the Rio Olympic Games following the release of additional information naming those implicated by the McLaren report,” the ICF said.
“In each case the ICF will impose an immediate suspension pending further investigation making the offending athletes ineligible to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”
The five were named as Elena Aniushina, Natalia Podolskaya, Alexander Dyachenko, Andrey Kraitor and Alexey Korovashkov.
Korovashkov, a five-times world champion, won a bronze medal in London four years ago and Dyachenko won gold in a doubles kayak sprint.
The Olympics begin on August 5, giving sports federations precious little time to deal with Russian competitors, some of whom are already in Brazil.
In addition to the ban on Russia’s entire track and field team over doping, seven swimmers, two weightlifters, a wrestler and three rowers have all also been barred.
Twenty-five canoe sprint athletes were named in the damning report issued last week by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, which laid bare doping in dozens of Russian Olympic sports.
“This is a bitter blow for the Olympic movement and we are saddened that our sport is implicated. We have taken swift action and removed all offending athletes where doping evidence exists,” said Toulson.
“The ICF will continue its strong zero-tolerance stance and remove all athletes that contravene its rules in anyway.”