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Russia minister Mutko ready to resign if team banned from Olympics

Europe
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Moscow (dpa) - Russia‘s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says he is prepared to step down if the national team is suspended from the 2016 Olympic Games.

"It would be an enormous failure for me if the entire team is suspended," he told MatchTV channel Saturday.

Mutko said if that happened "I would undertake all responsibilities and will be ready to step down."

Russian track and field athletes will meanwhile be filing individual applications from Sunday for participation in the Olympics, Mutko said.

"Tomorrow, up to 67 Russian track and field athletes will be filing individual applications to the IOC (International Olympic Committee); they have the right to do so," he told MatchTV.

At the same time they will be filing claims to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It follows a decision by the international athletics federation IAAF to uphold a ban on Russian athletics over doping, ruling the federation out of the August 5-21 Olympics.

Despite the ban, the IOC has said some Russian athletes could compete in Rio on condition they could prove they were not doped.

The athletes must have undergone or will undergo doping tests outside Russia‘s anti-doping system, the IOC said.

IOC president Thomas Bach said athletes would have to be individually evaluated and declared eligible by their sport‘s international federation.

Any athletes who succeed in their appeal would compete under the Russian flag, not an Olympic or neutral one.

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva again spoke out against a collective ban on the Russian team, telling Germany‘s Der Spiegel magazine Saturday it would be "a fatal blow" to emerging young sportsmen and women.

Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic champion, said she would be appealing to CAS to enforce her "starting right" for Rio.

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