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UCI “stupid and impotent” over Russian Rio bans, claims Oleg Tinkov

Entrepreneur hits out as Zakarin and others excluded - but has he chosen the right target?

Oleg Tinkov has called the UCI “stupid and impotent” over the exclusion of six Russian cyclists from the Rio Olympics, which start this week.

The Tinkoff team owner, who is severing ties with professional cycling at the end of this year, was reacting to the news that six of the 17 riders selected to represent Russia in Brazil will not be allowed to take part.

The six include Katusha rider Ilnur Zakarin, who won a stage of the Tour de France last month.

However, in common with men’s team pursuit rider Sergey Shilov, and London 2012 road and time trial bronze medallist Olga Zabelinskaya, Zakarin will not be permitted to take part since he has previously served a doping ban.

Three further Russian cyclists, whose names have not been made public to date, have been excluded from the squad due to being potentially implicated in the doping cover-up scandal that has embroiled Russian sport.

Posting a picture of Zakarin to Instagram, the Russian entrepreneur said: “Zakarin can't go to #Rio but Valverde and others who been caught on doping can?

“If this is not political revenge on Russia, what is it?

“It show again how stupid and impotent that f*cking #UCI. Just bunch of bureaucratic idiots.”

In fact, the decision to exclude Zakarin, Zabelinskaya and Shilov – in common with athletes in other sports who have been banned from doping – was one taken by the Russian Olympic Committee, in line with a directive from the International Olympic Committee in its response to last month’s McLaren report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

> UCI clarifies position over Russian riders at Rio

The Russian Olympic Committee also passed the names of the other three riders to the UCI, which said it was liaising with WADA so their cases could be dealt with promptly.

The IOC’s decision to refer the eligibility of Russian athletes to the individual global governing bodies of the various sports at the Olympics, instead of implementing a blanket ban, has dismayed anti-doping campaigners.

Had Zakarin, banned from two years in 2009 for taking anabolic steroids, represented any country other than Russia, he would have been eligible for Rio – as he would have been at London 2012 following a change to IOC rules on athletes returning from a suspension.

Under an IOC rule introduced in 2008, athletes who had served a doping ban of six months or more were forbidden from taking part in the Olympics immediately following the expiry of their ban.

But in 2011, announcing its decision in an appeal brought by the American 400m runner LaShawn Merritt, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said the so-called Osaka Rule was “invalid and unenforceable.”

In 2012, CAS also ruled that the British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban from representing the country at the Olympics was inconsistent with the World Anti-Doping Code, paving the way for David Millar to act as road captain in the road race in London.

> Millar cleared for London as BOA ban ruled invalid

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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