By Mitch Phillips
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The confusing case of Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev took a new twist on Tuesday when swimming’s ruling body said, despite earlier reports, that the Russian duo had not been cleared to compete at the Olympics and still await a final decision.
Earlier, the pair’s lawyer told Russia’s TASS news agency that they had been cleared by FINA after successfully appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against being banned from the Games by swimming’s world governing body.
“Contrary to recent media reports, the eligibility of Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev to compete has not been confirmed and will not be confirmed until the IOC’s three-person commission to review Russian entrants renders its final decision on these athletes, along with the other members of the Russian swimming team,” FINA said in a statement.
“The two athletes filed an appeal to CAS and FINA understands that this Court has forwarded the case to the IOC three-person commission for final decision.”
The two swimmers have never failed a doping test but FINA banned them following the IOC’s ruling that only athletes who can prove they have operated under a bona-fide anti-doping system should be allowed to compete in Rio.
Both were mentioned in the McLaren report for the World Anti-Doping Agency in reference to “disappearing positives” – whereby positive dope tests by Russian athletes were destroyed or covered up, leading to FINA ruling them ineligible.
Lobintsev and U.S.-based Morozov were part of Russia’s bronze-medal winning 4×100 metres freestyle team at the London 2012 Games, while Lobintsev also won silver in the 4×200 freestyle relay at Beijing 2008.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez and Ken Ferris)