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1ST LEAD Deputy minister expects Russian athletics team at Rio Olympics By dpa correspondents

Europe
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Moscow (dpa) - Russia expects to have a ban on its athletics team lifted for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, deputy sports minister Yuri Yuri Nagornykh was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Nagornykh said he believes the ruling athletics body IAAF will lift the ban, imposed in November over allegations of widespread doping, at a June 17 meeting in Vienna.

"It is in the interest of the IAAF and the Russian athletics federation that the strongest athletes compete at Olympic Games," Nagornykh was quoted by Russian media as saying.

Nagornykh added that the Russian federation ARAF is cooperating and working according to the conditions set by the IAAF.

ARAF secretary general Mikhail Butov meanwhile told the Tass news agency that the federation made the right decision by recommending a rule change the previous day under which athletes who have been found guilty of doping in the past will not be allowed to compete in Rio.

Butov added that the move only applies to the Olympics while athletes who have served sanctions can compete at other events.

"The latest decision means that we ourselves want to be maximally sure that no doping scandals will accompany our athletics team in Rio, provided that it goes to the Olympics," Butov said.

Russia has been rocked by doping allegations in athletics and other sports, and according to Tass on Tuesday 14 Russians are among 31 athletes caught using forbidden substances in retests of 454 samples from the 2008 Olympics.

They also include high jumper Anna Chicherova who won bronze in 2008 and gold in 2012, Tass quoted her coach as saying.

In addition, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, told the New York Times recently that 15 Russian medallists from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics were doped. Rodchenkov said he helped provide performance-enhancing drugs to athletes and switch out drug-tainted test samples with clean ones.

Former javelin world champion Christina Obergfoell of Germany meanwhile called for tough action against Russia in light of the latest accusations.

"Enough is enough. Now action has to be taken," Obergfoell told dpa.

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