Olympic Games: Italy replaces Russia in men's team pursuit

Italy has been admitted as a late replacement entry in the men’s team pursuit at the Rio 2016 Olympics after Russia’s appeal against its exclusion was turned down on Friday morning. The decision means that Italy, who placed fourth in March’s World Championships, will field a team that includes Filippo Ganna, the reigning individual pursuit world champion.

The Russian team pursuit quartet had qualified for the Olympics as the sixth-ranked European team, but their participation was cast into doubt following the response to last month’s publication of the McLaren Report into allegations of state-sponsored doping in the country.

Sergey Shilov, who tested positive for carphedon in 2009, was ruled out of the Games by a new measure barring all Russian athletes who had previously served doping bans, while Kirill Sveshnikov, Dmitry Sokolov and Dmitry Strakhov were implicated in the McLaren report. This left Viktor Manakov as the only member of the team pursuit squad who had not been potentially barred.

Sveshnikov, Sokolov and Strakhov appealed their exclusion to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has been holding hearings in Rio this week, but on Friday morning it was confirmed that they had lost their case against the UCI and IOC.

Elia Viviani, who was part of Italy’s team pursuit squad at the London Worlds, is already in Rio to participate in the omnium, with Filippo Ganna, Liam Bertazzo, Simone Consonni, and Francesco Lamon set to fly to Brazil this weekend to join him. The qualifying round of the men’s team pursuit takes place next Thursday.

Ganna, Consonni and Lamon, who all ride for the Colpack Continental squad, were part of the Italian squad that recently set a new national record of 3:56.393 at the European Under-23 Track Championships.

“We’re very happy with this call-up but we’re a little bit sorry that it has come at the last minute and that the lads haven’t had the chance to prepare themselves and aren’t in top condition,” Colpack director sportif Gianluca Valoti said. “This was a rest period for our riders. Consonni and Ganna were training at Sestriere to get ready for their next races on the road.”

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