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2ND LEAD Putin slams discrimination against Russia over doping scandal By Peter Spinella, dpa

Europe
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Moscow (dpa) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced as "discrimination" a ban on dozens of Russian athletes from competing in the upcoming Rio Olympics amid a doping scandal.

Russia "will not tolerate open discrimination," Putin told a gathering of the country‘s top athletes in Moscow, according to a Kremlin transcript.

"But we will seek justice only within the legal framework and in strict accordance with the Olympic charter," Putin told the athletes, including star pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who is one of the many Russian track-and-field athletes banned from the Games.

Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, insists she has not taken performance-enhancing drugs and has the test results to prove it.

"Let me say this directly, every country has dealt with doping problems, but sometimes an impression is formed that there are different demands and controls regarding athletes from different countries," Putin said in a speech.

"Athletes are being divided into ‘ours‘ and ‘theirs,‘ creating an accordingly unfair competitive advantage," Putin continued.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian state news agency TASS reported that the world athletics governing body IAAF rejected Russia‘s request to allow the recently banned Russian athletes to compete if they pass doping tests.

Only US-based long jumper Darya Klishina has been deemed eligible by the IAAF.

Last week, the international Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the IAAF‘s decision to ban virtually all Russian track-and-field athletes amid far-reaching allegations systematic anti-doping violations.

Following the court‘s ruling, Russia‘s Sport Minister Vitaly Mutko wrote a letter to IAAF President Sebastian Coe asking him to repeal the decision, but the IAAF rejected the request, TASS reported.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not issue a blanket ban on all Russian athletes for the August 5-21 Games but left it to individual sport federations to decide whether to permit Russian athletes into the Olympics for their particular sport.

Also on Wednesday, it was announced by governing body FIE that every Russian fencer entered into the Olympic Games will be allowed to compete.

"In accordance with the request of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) executive board, the FIE has established a pool of Russian fencers eligible for the Rio Olympics," an FIE statement said.

"It consists of all 16 fencers who have qualified for the Games, plus the four P-accreditation (reserve) athletes."

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