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Russia Claims It Will Be 'Competitive' In 2020 Olympics Despite Doping Issues

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov speaks to the media in Moscow, July 24, 2019
Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov speaks to the media in Moscow, July 24, 2019

A year ahead of the opening of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Russia’s sports minister says his country will be "competitive" at the event despite the sports-doping issues that have disrupted the team in recent years.

"We're not thinking about lawsuits or arguments. We're preparing calmly," Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told reporters on July 24.

"Roughly speaking, we understand we've already formed a pool of athletes who can compete for medals. I can say that we'll be competitive in 20 sports," he added.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics run from July 24 to August 9.

Russian international athletic activities have been in disarray since a 2015 report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) outlined evidence of systematic, state-backed doping in the country, which Russian government officials have denied.

Another report documented more than 1,000 doping cases across dozens of sports, most notably at the Winter Olympics that Russia hosted in Sochi in 2014.

Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in connection with the doping scandal, but 168 of its athletes were allowed to compete as neutrals under the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) label.

Russia was readmitted by the International Olympic Committee after the Pyeongchang Games and restrictions on its roster will be eased somewhat next year.

The International Association of Athletics Federations has cleared dozens of Russians to compete internationally in track.

But the country will be allowed to send only one male and one female weightlifter to the Tokyo Games under new rules restricting quotas for countries with a history of doping in that sport.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax

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