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Anti-doping Groups May Want All Russian Olympians Banned at Rio

FILE - Athletes train at the Brothers Znamensky Olympic Centre in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 10, 2015.

Several anti-doping agencies, including those of the United States and Canada, want a complete ban on Russia competing at the Rio Olympics if next week's key report into allegations of state-backed doping at the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics is damning, they said Saturday.

Russia's track and field athletes are already banned from competing at next month's Olympics by the International Association of Athletics Federations, track's governing body, over widespread doping in the sport.

In a leaked draft letter addressed to the International Olympic Committee, which will be sent once the report into Sochi led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren is presented Monday, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart calls for a ban on all Russian athletes, not just in track and field.

"We write on behalf of a community of clean athletes and anti-doping organizations with faith that the IOC can lead the way forward by upholding the principles of Olympics," said the draft letter, signed by Tygart and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports CEO Paul Melia. "Therefore, consistent with the Principles, Charter and Code we request that the IOC Executive Board take the action to suspend the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committee from participating in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio."

Melia said the draft letter was backed by other anti-doping agencies.

"A global group that includes various athletes committees and anti-doping organisations, including those of the United States, Germany, Japan and New Zealand, are preparing for the McLaren report," Melia told Reuters. "If the McLaren report produces clear and convincing evidence of state-sponsored doping in sport in Russia, they are prepared to call on the IOC to ban the Russian Olympic Committee from the games in Rio."

Support for 'clean' athletes

Tygart, in a statement emailed to Reuters when asked about the draft letter, said: "We always want universal inclusion at the Olympic Games, but we can't be blind to the evidence before us, and if we — as those who cherish the Olympic values — are not preparing for all potential outcomes, then we are not fulfilling our promise to clean athletes."

The draft letter has also been circulated to the World Anti-Doping Agency's Athlete Committee members by Canada's Beckie Scott, who chairs the committee, asking whether they agree to support it.

IOC President Thomas Bach said last month that individual Russian track and field athletes assessed as clean would be able to compete for their country in Brazil.

"My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree on an outcome before any evidence has been presented," IOC Executive Board member Patrick Hickey said. "Such interference and calls ahead of the McLaren Report publication are totally against internationally recognized fair legal process and may have completely undermined the integrity and therefore the credibility of this important report."

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