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Aussie rowers Rio-bound after Russian ban

Sport

The Australian women’s rowing eight have received a sensational late call-up to the Rio Olympics after the Russian team was ejected.

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The elevation came after world rowing governing body FISA ruled the Russian crew ineligible overnight for failing to comply with the International Olympic Committee’s anti-doping criteria issued after WADA’s explosive McLaren Report.

One of Russia’s crew, Anastasia Karabelshchikova, was banned from competing because of her doping history, leading to the entire boat being ruled ineligible early today.

“The decision, handed down by FISA today, is an incredible boost for Australian women’s sweep rowing and women’s rowing in general,” chairman of Rowing Australia Rob Scott said.

“To have more women being given the opportunity to compete at the pinnacle level of their sport will provide the inspiration for others to follow in their footsteps.

“Rowing Australia has always been committed to clean and fair competition and we commend FISA on their strong action in response to the recent findings of the McLaren Report.”

Australia initially failed to qualify for the Games but were the first reserve for the Rio showpiece which starts next week.

They had reassembled in Melbourne to maintain fitness in the hope of a favourable decision, and will now focus on the getting ready for Brazil.

It means women now outnumber men on Australia’s Olympic team for the first time at a summer Games, with 212 females and 207 men competing.

London Olympic canoe slalom silver medallist Jessica Fox said she was delighted with the news.

“To hear women’s eight [will] be in Rio is fantastic news, and to have a ratio of 50.42 per cent is fantastic,” Fox said from Rio.

“Women’s sport is taking off and female athletes had more recognition in the last couple of years and its really growing.”

Australian team boss Kitty Chiller said 35 Russian cheats have been removed from the Games in the last 24 hours, including 22 of the country’s 28 rowers.

It showed international federations are “starting to pounce”.

“With the athletics team already banned that’s a total of 103 Russian cheats who will not competing against our clean athletes in these Games,” Chiller said.

-AAP

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