SPORT

Russia Hosts 'Stars 2016' Games Featuring Banned Rio Athletes

A big up-yours to the Olympic Committee.

28/07/2016 12:18 PM AEST | Updated July 28, 2016 16:37
Lehtikuva Lehtikuva / Reuters
How long till I can take my shirt off?

Russia does not enjoy taking no for an answer. So with 100 of its track and field athletes banned from the Rio Olympic Games after sensational revelations of systemic state-backed doping programs, it's holding its own party.

This Thursday (Moscow time), the Russian capital will host a thing called the "Stars 2016" tournament. Russia's foreign news agency TASS reports that it will feature approximately 135 track and field athletes, including those forbidden to appear in Rio.

It's basically a great big big up-yours to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and plenty of people besides them.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the absence of top Russian competitors in Rio would "lower the intensity of the fight" and thus the "spectacle at the upcoming events". He also suggested that the world's sportsmen and women would understand that "the quality of their medals will be different".

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Despite her exclusion from Rio, Isinbayeva is Putin on a smile.

Putin should probably have a chat about that with Australia's Jared Tallent. It's unclear whether Putin is behind the Stars 2016 event, but it sounds like his kind of party. Russian national coach Yuriy Borzakovskiy will oversee it.

One athlete who will not compete in Moscow is Yelena Isinbayeva, the dual Olympic champion regarded as the greatest ever female pole vaulter, who was prevented from attending a fifth Olympics by the blanket ban on the Russian track and field team.

There is no suggestion that the 34-year-old was part of the culture of cheating, so it might be inferred that she has elected to miss the Moscow event so she's not tarred with the same brush as the cheats.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Nyet, I will not compete.

Or perhaps, as coach Borzakovskiy said, "She has decided to have a rest after such a hard season".

Meanwhile, Russia will still appear at the Rio Olympics in most other sports after the IOC last week opted against a blanket ban of Russians at the Games, despite evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of doping in other sports.

The IOC has allowed individual sports federations to decide which Russians can compete in Rio.

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