'Robbed' Tallent backs Russian Olympic ban

Meet the press ... Jared Tallent speaks to the media at the AIS recovery centre in Canberra this week. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Meet the press ... Jared Tallent speaks to the media at the AIS recovery centre in Canberra this week. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Australian Olympian Jared Tallent is saying "I told you so" after the World Anti-Doping Agency found government-backed cheating by Russian athletes sabotaged the London Games and called for them to be banned from the Rio Olympics unless Moscow cleans up its act.

WADA's independent commission recommended the country be suspended from all athletics competitions after accusing it of employing a systematic method of "covering up, destroying and paying money to conceal doping tests".

The commission, headed by the former WADA president Dick Pound, laid out almost a year's worth of evidence - 320 pages - from its investigation.

It also named Olympic athletes who it said had cheated to win medals in London three years ago and pushed for lifetime bans for five runners and four coaches.

 

(L-R) Silver medalist Jared Tallent of Australia, gold medalist Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia and bronze medalist Tianfeng Si of China  from the men's 50km walk in London 2012. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.
(L-R) Silver medalist Jared Tallent of Australia, gold medalist Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia and bronze medalist Tianfeng Si of China from the men's 50km walk in London 2012. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

Russia won 17 track and field medals at the London Olympics including gold in the 50km race walk, where Tallent finished second.

Earlier this year Russia's anti-drug agency hit the winner, Sergey Kirdyapkin, with a three-year, two-month ban for doping, but only annulled selected results either side of the Olympics.

Kirdyapkin's ban is due to expire in time for Rio.

Tallent described all that as a farce and has been pushing for the gold medal to be awarded to him.

"I have copped abuse on Twitter and Facebook from Russians that think I am whinging," he told reporters in Canberra yesterday.

"It has been hard to go training every day knowing that you have been robbed of an Olympic gold medal. It is tough."

He backed the call to ban Russian athletes and was supported by Athletics Australia chief executive Phil Jones, who doubted the problem could be fixed in time for Rio.

Dick Pound
Dick Pound

Pound described banning Russia from competing at next year's Olympics as the "nuclear option", but said it could be the only option amid the level of doping that had spread to other sports which were not part of the commission's investigation.

"Either they get their house in order, get that done or you won't be in Rio," he said.

"For 2016 our recommendation is that the Russian federation be suspended. One of our hopes is they'll volunteer that. There may be no Russian track and field athletes in Rio. I hope they recognise it's time to make those changes."

However Russia appeared to be digging in, with a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin saying the Kremlin stood by previous denials made by Russia's sports ministry about doping.



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