The day which will decide Russia’s Olympic fate could not have got off to a worst start for the disgraced athletics superpower .
Ten thousand miles from Vienna, where the IAAF is due to announce its decision on the participation of Russian athletes in Rio , the country’s anti-doping agency and athletics body were savaged by a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.
John Coates braved pouring rain in Melbourne to present Australian race walker Jared Tallent with the 50k race walk Olympic gold medal he had been denied by Russian drugs cheat Sergey Kirdyapkin at London 2012.
He used the occasion to vent his spleen at those he considered responsible for Tallent having to wait 1046 days for justice.
Coates said: “Presenting an Olympic medal is always an honour, but more so on this occasion to be part of rectifying, in some way, the massive injustice perpetrated on Jared by a doping cheat and aided by a Russian Anti-Doping Agency and Russian Athletics Federation that were rotten to the core.”
Coates, who is also the Australian Olympic Committee president, did not leave it at that.
He turned his fire on Rusada, accusing them of offering Kirdyapkin “favourable treatment” by not including the London Olympics among results they disqualified.
“Kirdyapkin’s London Olympic result would have been allowed to stand, and we would not have been here today, had the International Athletics Federation not successfully appealed against him and five other Russian athletes,” he said.
A sizeable crowd, sheltered under umbrellas, had turned up to see Tallent get his medal, hear the national anthem played and see the Australian flag raised.
They also got to see the 31-year-old awarded an Order of Australia medal, before he declared that Russia should not be allowed to compete in Rio.
“The evidence is quite clear,” Tallent said. “Russia hasn’t made the changes to be there. I hope (the IAAF) make the right decision.”
He added that he would be “very, very angry” if Russian athletes are allowed to go to Brazil, insisting “it’ll hurt the credibility” of the Games.
“This is a clear message,” Tallent declared. “This day is amazing but it shouldn’t have happened. We don’t want drug cheats at the Olympic Games.”