29 Jun 2016

Extra NZ athletes not on standby for Rio says NZOC

5:15 am on 29 June 2016

The New Zealand Olympic Committee says it hasn't put athletes on standby, to fill any gap should there be a wholesale ban on Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics.

TVNZ is reporting a dozen New Zealand athletes have been put on standby pending the International Olympic Committee extending a ban on Russian track and field athletes to Russian athletes in all Olympic codes.

Last week the IOC banned Russian track and field athletes from competing in Rio unless they had undergone independent drug testing.

Athletics international governing body, the IAAF, has banned Russian athletes from competing internationally because of a systematic doping programme.

Russia athletics

Russian track and field athletes are currently banned from international events. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

If all Russian athletes were banned from the Games it would leave vacancies, opening the way for New Zealand athletes who haven't qualified for Rio.

However the NZOC's communication manager Ashley Abbott says they have not put athletes on standby and are unaware of any pending widespread Russian ban.

Ina later statement the NZOC said that a group of rowers had continued to train ahead of the Rio Games should any athletes, not just those from Russia, failed doping tests ahead of the Olympics.

"Drug testing in the build up to the Olympic Games is a high priority for the international sporting movement and positive drug tests from international athletes that may affect New Zealand Olympic qualification cannot be ruled out," NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith said in the statement.

"To this end, New Zealand's ... rowing crews that narrowly missed qualification at the May last chance qualification regatta in Lucerne have returned to New Zealand to continue training at Lake Karapiro at the request of their sport, Rowing New Zealand."

The men's quadruple sculls and the men's four missed out on making Rio after they both finished third at last month's last chance Olympic qualification regatta in Switzerland.

Only the top two finishers in Lucerne qualified for Rio with the Russian men's squad winning the final.

South Africa won the men's four in Lucerne with France finishing second, ahead of New Zealand's crew. Russia had already qualified in men's four for Rio at the world championships last year.

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