The All-Russia Athletic Federation has filed an appeal hoping to reinstate 68 athletes, claiming each is clean and has met the Olympic qualifying standard. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected to announce its decision on July 21.
If the ban is fully upheld, data company Gracenote says Russia’s predicted Rio medal tally will drop by six — making it more likely that Great Britain could overhaul the Russians for third place in the medal table.
Gracenote’s “Virtual Medal Table” uses weighted results from the past four years of world-class events, and some data related to fastest times, to work out the favorites for each event at the Olympics.
Under that system, the United States is expected to win the most gold medals (41) and the most overall medals (92) in Rio — as is normally the case at each Summer Games.
Gracenote predicts China will remain in second place with 31 gold medals and 82 overall.
But Russia’s 63-medal tally will be reduced to 57 if its track and field athletes are not cleared to compete.
“it’s still not clear who’s going to take part and who isn’t — whether they’ll take part under an independent flag or whether they’ll win this appeal,” Gracenote Sports’ head of analysis, Simon Gleave, told CNN.
“But 63 medals, which includes six athletics medals, is very low historically. The lowest since Russia became an independent nation was 63 in 1996, so you’re getting close to that.”
Among the six medals Gracenote thinks Russia would lose if the ban is upheld is silver in the 110m hurdles — Sergey Shubenkov, last year’s world champion, would miss out.
Tatyana Beloborodova, who won 2012 Olympic hammer gold as Tatyana Lysenko, is another predicted medalist who would be ruled out. She is provisionally suspended from competition following a failed drugs test earlier this year.
London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova — who is not on Russia’s 68-athlete appeals list after a retest of her Beijing 2008 samples came back positive — is also expected by Gracenote to win a Rio medal if allowed to compete.
Advantage Team GB?
The upshot is that an upheld Russian ban would give Great Britain more hope of defending third place in the Olympic medal table.
The British team rose to a historic third, above Russia but below the U.S. and China, at its home Games in London. However, host nations almost invariably win fewer medals at the following Olympics.
Gracenote suggests that with the ban in place, Britain could expect to win 18 golds and 51 overall medals to Russia’s 20 golds and 57 overall medals.
“Now it’s getting interesting,” said Gleave. “It does favor GB more than if all of this wasn’t going on.
“It gives GB a chance, even with a fairly heavily reduced medal total from 2012 (where Britain won 29 golds and 65 medals) which is what we’d expect.
“Germany would be the other main contender, or possibly Australia or Japan. But they would need to over-perform more than GB would.”
World athletics governing body the IAAF said the 30-year-old, an 800m runner, could compete as a neutral following her “truly exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of the sport.” She previously served a two-year doping ban from 2013 to 2015.
Gracenote plans to update its Virtual Medal Table one more time, immediately before the start of the Rio Games, to include the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s final decision on other Russian athletes alongside other updates on athletes struggling with injury.
Gatlin to win 100m gold in Rio?
American rival Justin Gatlin, banned for doping from 2006 to 2010, is Gracenote’s pick to win the Rio men’s 100m sprint title — with or without Bolt on the starting line.
“Justin Gatlin’s winning. We’ve got him in gold anyway. In terms of the results that go into this, Gatlin comes out very well and the world championships last year showed there’s actually very little between them,” said Gleave. Bolt battled past Gatlin to win 2015 world gold in 9.79 seconds, while Gatlin had run 9.77 in his semi-final.
“Even if Usain Bolt had competed in more events, we’d still have Gatlin in the gold,” added Gleave.
“But clearly this is a data-driven thing and it’s only data-driven. The data suggests Gatlin is the gold medal winner. Before last year’s world final, Gatlin was even the bookmakers’ favorite. However, when it came down to the final — whether it’s a mental thing or not — he couldn’t do it.”