Vladimir Putin (AFP)
Moscow - President Vladimir Putin will meet
Russia's dwindling Olympic team on Wednesday as the list of its athletes banned
from the Rio Games over revelations of state-run doping soared above 100.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC)
sparked fierce criticism on Sunday when it resisted a blanket ban in favour of
allowing individual sports federations to make the call on which Russians can
go to Rio.
International sports federations are now
scrambling to vet Russian athletes as time ticks down to the start of the Games
on August 5.
Putin, who has made sporting success a
priority in a bid to harness national pride, is set to meet the Russian team in
a ceremony at the Kremlin before the influential head of the country's Orthodox
Church blesses those due to set off to Rio on Thursday.
Russia's track and field team was already
banned from Rio over state-sponsored doping, but its Olympic Committee last
week optimistically named a 387-strong squad for the Games.
However, since the IOC decision at the
weekend, the number of Russian competitors allowed to take part has steadily
Rowing's international governing body FISA
was the latest to get tough with Russia, announcing late on Tuesday that 22 of
28 Russian competitors had been banned under strict criteria imposed by the
That took the number of Russian athletes
banned since Sunday to 41, in addition to the 67 track and field athletes
already banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations
The head of Russia's trampolining
federation, Nikolai Makarov, told TASS news agency Wednesday that he had
received "verbal permission" from the sport's international
authorities that the team will be allowed to compete.
Sixteen Russians from its fencing team have
also been cleared, the sport's governing body said.
Controversially, among the Russians banned
is Yuliya Stepanova, the 800m runner who lifted the lid on systematic doping
and corruption in Russian athletics.
Stepanova, who fled Russia and is reviled
by many back home, is making one last-gasp appeal of her IOC ban.
Her inclusion is backed by the IAAF and
many anti-doping officials, who have praised her whistleblowing efforts, but
was nixed by an IOC ethics commission.
Four-time world breaststroke champion Yulia
Efimova also plans to appeal her ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The IOC has received praise from Russia but
stinging criticism from elsewhere for failing to impose a total ban on the
country over shocking evidence of a state-organised system to cheat.
Germany's Olympic discus champion Robert
Harting on Tuesday launched a verbal attack on IOC president Thomas Bach,
calling his compatriot "part of the doping system not the anti-doping
Bach fired back that the decision to leave
individual sports federations to decide which Russians could compete
"respects the right of every clean athlete around the world," noting
that would-be Russian Olympians must clear "the highest hurdles" to
make the Games.
A report this month by Canadian law
professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) detailed an
elaborate doping system in Russia directed by the sports ministry that affected
more than 30 sports over four years.