Russia plans to compete in Tokyo under national flag

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov during a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 25 December 2019

Russia plans to compete in Tokyo under national flag

  • Russia has said it would contest the ban, with President Vladimir Putin slamming the sanctions as politically motivated

MOSCOW: The Russian Olympic Committee said Tuesday it expected that Russian athletes would take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games under the national flag despite a four-year doping ban.

“The Russian Olympic Committee is a rightful member of the Olympic movement,” its president Stanislav Pozdnyakov told reporters after a meeting.

“Therefore we have every reason to believe that we will put together a team for Tokyo and do everything in our power for this team to perform under the Russian tricolour.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency on Dec. 10 banned Russia for four years from major global events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, over manipulated doping data.

WADA accused Moscow of falsifying data from a doping testing laboratory that was handed over to investigators earlier this year.

Russia has said it would contest the ban, with President Vladimir Putin slamming the sanctions as politically motivated.

Speaking on Tuesday, Pozdnyakov confirmed that the Russian Olympic Committee would support the decision of its supervisory board to defy the WADA ban.

Last week the RUSADA anti-doping agency said it had “made a decision not to agree” with the four-year ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision.

The decision will have to be communicated to WADA before the end of the month, triggering the appeal process in the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, but only as neutrals and if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.


Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

Updated 51 min 26 sec ago

Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

  • The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match

PARIS: Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, while 12-time champion Rafael Nadal raced into the third round.

The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova citing the injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tuneup event.

“The Achilles didn't have enough time to heal after the US Open,” said Williams, who admitted last week she was not fully fit after her run to the semifinals in New York.

“I'm struggling to walk, so that's kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover.”

The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time majors record.

Nadal looked in ominous form as he stepped up his pursuit of Roger Federer's 20 major titles with a crushing win over 236th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald.

The Spaniard batted aside McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in exactly 100 minutes and will meet Japan's Kei Nishikori or Stefano Travaglia of Italy for a spot in the last 16.

“The aim was to play as well as possible. I'm very happy. I have another difficult match next,” said Nadal. The 34-year-old needs one more major to pull level with long-time rival Federer and owns an astonishing 95-2 record in Paris going back to his triumph on debut in 2005.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) victory over American qualifier Jack Sock, saving three set points to close out the match.

The Austrian third seed will play Norway's Casper Ruud, seeded 28th, or American Tommy Paul for a place in the last 16.

“I'm very happy with my game in the first two rounds. It was not an easy draw at all and I'm very happy not to drop a set,” said Thiem, who defeated 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in round one.

Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens had to be taken off court in a wheelchair after a fiery win over former finalist Sara Errani.

Bertens triumphed 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 9-7 in a three-hour 11-minute clash which left her in cramps and Italian Errani screaming an obscenity as she left the court.

"After one hour, she's injured but then she's running around like never before," said Errani.

"She leaves the court in a chair and now she's in the locker room and eating in the restaurant, perfect. She exaggerated."

Bertens is due to meet Katerina Siniakova next while Elina Svitolina overcame Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

The Ukrainian third seed is coming off a title at Strasbourg last week and will next play Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, but was briefly taken aback by a sonic boom.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open winner, followed up his demolition of Andy Murray with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Germany's Dominik Koepfer.

Sebastian Korda, the son of 1992 Roland Garros runner-up and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, also progressed after a four-sets victory over fellow American John Isner.