LONDON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Russia’s track and field team being banned from the Olympics sends a powerful message that should scare cheats, according to Usain Bolt.
Stretching out his left arm to show the small adhesive bandage covering the mark left by his latest doping test on Thursday, Bolt decried the “really bad” doping problem in his sport.
The six-time Olympic champion was speaking in London shortly after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal by 68 Russian athletes seeking to overturn a ban imposed by the IAAF, following allegations of state-sponsored doping.
“It’s a good message to show that if you cheat or you go against the rules then we’re going to take serious action,” Bolt said. “This (ban on track and field athletes) will scare a lot of people, or send a strong message that the sport is serious. We want a clean sport.”
Two reports from the World Anti-Doping Agency have accused Russia of orchestrating a doping program that saw drug-tainted samples disappear or manipulated.
Now the International Olympic Committee has to decide whether to go further than the IAAF’s decision and ban the entire Russia team from the Rio de Janeiro.
Usually so confident on the track, Bolt was initially wary about discussing the “sideshows” of Olympic bans, but the Jamaican sprinter found his stride at a news conference in London.
“If you have the proof and you catch somebody, I definitely feel you should take action,” the 29-year-old Bolt said. “And if you feel banning the whole team is the right action, then I am all for it.
“Rules are the rules, and doping violations in track and field is getting really bad. So if you feel like you need to make a statement, then thumbs up.”
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Thursday the country’s athletes who are banned from competing in the Olympics could go to a civil court to try and overturn the ban.
Mutko added that Russia’s athletes will continue to “defend their honor and dignity” even though any legal proceedings may not be held before the games begin on Aug. 5.
Russia has the right to appeal to the Swiss federal tribunal within 30 days.
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