Rio Olympics ban: Russian track & field athletes to file class action with CAS

Russian track and field athletes will file collective and possibly individual lawsuits with Lausanne arbitration court to challenge the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision banning them from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Class action against the IAAF decision will be filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) next week, the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) Secretary General Mikhail Butov told TASS on Thursday.

“A suit or suits will be submitted to CAS next week. It is also necessary to completely determine the legal direction, but we have generally formed a group of lawyers with whom we will work,” Butov said.

“I don't known whether Mike Morgan (Morgan Sports Law LLP) of the UK will be among them, so far I'd rather not disclose the names. Class actions will be filed for certain, but some individual suits are also possible,” Butov said.

“We are going to have consultations with these lawyers in the coming days. Then we will make the final decision,” the ARAF secretary general said.

The announcement comes following the vote of the Executive Board members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in favor of supporting the IAAF decision not to admit the Russian track and field team to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. The IOC decision was made at an Olympic federations’ summit on June 21.

The IAAF has voted to uphold the ban imposed on Russia’s team last November over suspected widespread doping.

The IOC says Russian athletes will be evaluated individually to determine their eligibility to compete in Rio.

“With regard to participation of track and field athletes from Russia – we still have to wait,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on Tuesday.

“The individual decisions are still coming from IAAF. We will respect the decisions they are taking as a consequence with regard of the qualified athletes,” Bach said.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has stripped the Russian Olympic team of two quotas. Russia had maximum quota of 10 athletes – 6 men and 4 women. The IWF Executive Board meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, also stripped two quotas from the teams of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, North Korea and Moldova. In addition, the national teams of Belarus, Romania and Uzbekistan lost one quota each.

“Russia’s Weightlifting Federation is set to file a lawsuit and seek legal redress,” Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told journalists. “Taking decisions of the kind on the eve of the Olympics is callous disregard towards sportsmen and national teams,” Mutko said, adding that athletes and countries have spent years and colossal sums of money to get ready for the Rio Games.

The IAAF issued a set of guidelines for Russian athletes seeking “exceptional eligibility” to take part in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and other international competitions, adding that the sportspeople would be admitted to the competition only as “neutral” athletes and “not for Russia.”

“The IAAF has today published a set of guidelines for athletes seeking exceptional eligibility for International Competition under Competition Rule 22.1A,” the track and field governing body said in a statement.

Athletes allowed to file a request for permission involve those “who can clearly and convincingly show that they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country and subject to other effective anti-doping systems.”

The IOC, however, said on Tuesday that the IAAF is not entitled to decide under which flag an athlete may compete at the Olympics.

The Olympic Games 2016 begin in Brazil on August 5 and run till August 21.

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Yordan O´Farril: Not making a lot of noise, but ready to Rio 2016

Yordan O’Farril is not a renowned athlete yet and life has placed him at a crossroad.

On one hand, he has been the first track and field athlete to get his ticket to Rio de Janeiro 2016. On the other hand, he knows this competition will indicate if he can continue the legacy of his predecessors Anier Garcia and Dayron Robles.

He ran the 110 m hurdles in 13.40s at the International Meeting held in Guadeloupe behind American Aleec Harris (13.18s) and French Wilhem Belocian (13.30s), junior world record holder thanks to his 12.99 in Eugene, Oregon.

With 6’0 and 73 kg, O’Farril stunned specialists at the IAAF World Junior Championship held in Barcelona in 2012 with his 13.18s race.

He personally took revenge of his result at the I Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore 2010, where he ended fifth after being labeled as the favorite to win the competition.

Main virtues: Good technique he has improved (see his 13.19s in Prague, Czech Republic, June 2014). He is strong in the second half of the race. This feature has been common trait of Cuban hurdlers. He has good technique while facing hurdles and he is constantly trying to get it better.

Handicaps: the start reaction and the pace until the first hurdle. He confessed he has improved, but he still needs long way to go. He also needs to gain some weight in order to display more physical power.

Cubasi Translation Staff

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Lazaro Martinez honoured to uphold a Cuban tradition in Eugene

Heir of a successful tradition in the triple jump, Lazaro Martinez left his mark on Hayward Field and won a much-awaited gold medal for Cuba on the final day of the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014 on Sunday (27).

Martinez, who stands 1.92m tall, broke the triple jump championship record twice in the final, first with his opening 17.08m, four centimetres farther than his countryman Yoelbi Quesada’s mark set in 1992. He then improved it 17.13m in the following round.

“I was aiming for six jumps and the world junior record (which is 17.50m and stood to the former East German Volker Mai since 1985), but I felt a minor discomfort in my right ankle on my second jump and passed two rounds to recover," said Martinez. "This is a win for all the team. I am very proud to bring the gold medal to Cuba after four silver medals in Eugene."

Billed as the clear favourite after his world youth best of 17.24m earlier in the season, his 2014 best was almost a metre better than the next man on the list but Martinez still treated the competition like any other.

“I came to this competition with the mindset that anyone could challenge me. I don’t take anything for granted.

“I am honored to keep the (Cuban) tradition alive in the triple jump," he added. "We have a young generation of young jumpers who already shone internationally such as (world championships medallists Ernesto) Reve and Pedro Pablo Pichardo. I am humbled to have my name alongside great Cuban jumpers who preceded me."

Martinez joined past Cuban male champions in this event: Yoelbi Quesada in 1992, Rene Hernandez in 1996, David Girat in 2002 and Pedro Pablo Pichardo in 2012.

A native of Guantanamo, Cuba’s easternmost province, Martinez practised a variety of sports, including basketball and judo up to when he was 10. His mother, former 400m runner Isabel Contreras, encouraged him to take up athletics a year later and connected him to a friend and coach.

“Initially I did not like athletics,” he said. “But I did a test with the coach and she told me I had the potential to enter the provincial sports school.”

After an initial success on the track and especially in the jumps, he started to specialise in the jumps in 2010 under the watch of coach Manuel Guilarte. In his first season, he improved to 14.64m and then to 15.38m, a national age-14 best. He also cleared 1.97m in the high jump. Those results opened the doors to the national junior team.

“Even if I had success in athletics, I did not like it much," he said. "It was coach Guilarte who instilled in me the love for the sport. To me, he is the best coach in the world."

When he joined the national junior team in Havana, he started training under the guidance of coach Marcos Juvenal and continued to show rapid progress. 

A world youth leader with 16.53m heading into last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships, he lived up to the expectations in Donetsk by winning with a personal best of 16.63m.

Hard work through the winter paid off again and in massive proportions early in 2014.

In his season opener, he landed at 17.24m to become the first youth athlete ever to break the 17-metre mark. In the process, he joined 22 other Cubans in surpassing that barrier.

A consistency around 16.80m-17.10m paved the way for his first IAAF Diamond League invitations in Shanghai, Rome and Oslo.

And he did not disappoint. He finished second in the Chinese city and third in the Italian capital, only beaten by world and Olympic medallists Will Claye and Christian Taylor.

“It is a privilege to compete with the world’s best," he said. "Imagine, I was watching them on TV in the Olympics and the World Championships in 2012 and 2013 and now competing with them. It is an incredible experience. I have nothing to lose and it inspires me to achieve better results."

Martinez has become accustomed to receiving a lot of praise for his talent and potential.

“I am aware of that, but I could not have achieved anything it if were not for my hard work in training. Triple jump is a very intensive event, it requires a lot of preparation to become a good jumper.”

There is more to come before 2014 wraps up. He now has his eyes set on the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing next month and then back to Europe for more IAAF Diamond League outings.

Outside the track, Lazaro is in all other respects an ordinary Cuban teenager. In his free time, he enjoys listening to Cuban reggaeton and US singers such as Usher and Beyonce. He finished high school with good marks and plans to take a program to become Physical Education teacher.

  • Published in Sports
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