Russian Rio team stands at 266


Moscow - Russia's sports minister said Saturday that the national team to compete in the Rio Olympics starting next week so far has 266 competitors, although decisions were still pending on several athletes.

"As of this morning I can say that we will represent 29 disciplines out of 34, with 266 people," minister Vitaly Mutko said in an interview with sports channel Match-TV.

Besides 67 track and field athletes banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over revelations of a state-run doping scheme, dozens more have been told not to compete in Brazil, including swimmers, rowers, and wrestlers.

Mutko said that Russia is still expecting to hear final judgement on its swimming team on Saturday.

"In swimming, we announced a team of 35 people, now 26 have passed the selection process," he said, adding that he expected a final decision "today".

The US Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday that Olympic medallist Nikita Lobintsev has tested positive for meldonium, the substance banned in the beginning of 2016. He is one of seven swimmers who have been banned from Rio.

The International Weightlifting Federation on Friday banned the eight-strong weightlifting team, saying Russian athletes have to assume collective responsibility following positive results of seven dope tests which have been re-examined from past Olympics.

Mutko slammed the decision, saying the IWF should have let clean athletes compete.

"They should have decided to permit all athletes with spotless reputation (to the Games,)" he said, specifically referring to Oleg Chen and David Berdzhanyan.

The International Olympic Committee resisted a blanket ban on Russia following the most recent explosive report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), who detailed an elaborate doping scheme in Russian sports orchestrated by the government.

Instead the IOC left the decision up to the sports federations to vet individual athletes in time for the August 5 opening ceremony.

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