The FISA Executive Committee decided that 22 of the 28 Russian rowers cannot participate in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games because they did not follow the IOC’s anti-doping criteria.
Previously, the Russian Olympic Committee approved 26 rowers and 2 coxswains for its Olympic team. None of these athletes tested positive for banned substances since 2011, as of July 18, 2016. All of the results are documented in ADAMS, the World Anit-Doping Agency’s (WADA) documentation tool, but WADA’s Independent Person report found that the Moscow Laboratory was manipulating the results using the Disappearing Positive Methodology.[i]
The Disappearing Positive Methodology is Russia’s doping cheating program, which went into effect in late 2011. Doping positives and the athlete’s name are reported to the Russian Deputy Minister for Sport, and the Russian Ministry of Sport decides whether to report the sample as negative to WADA or to order the athlete to undergo regular analytical procedures.[ii]
Therefore, rowing’s international governing body FISA decided to ban 22 of the 28 Russian rowers. This means that Russia will withdraw four of its boats from competing in the Games, and the boats that placed next in the 2016 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta will replace them. Greece will compete in the lightweight men’s four, and Italy will compete in the men’s eight. Australia will compete in the women’s eight. In addition, Italy’s lightweight women’s double skulls, the boat that placed after Russia in the 2016 European Continental Qualification Regatta, will replace Russia in the Olympics.[iii] Russia will only be able to compete with the men’s coxless four in Rio.[iv]
The nine additional Australian athletes means that the Australian Olympic team will have more men than women for the first time. The Australian Women’s Eight had continued training because they were hoping for a favorable decision from FISA.[v]
FISA’s decision to ban several Russian rowers allowed three countries to send additional athletes to the Rio Olympic Games.