Almost all Russian athletes are currently ruled out of August’s Olympics because track and field’s world governing body has suspended the country over allegations of widespread, state-sponsored doping
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.
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.”
Yuliya Stepanova, who served as a whistleblower to help a German TV documentary on doping in Russia, is so far the only Russian track and field athlete to receive clearance to compete
at the Olympics.
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?
One of those is Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt, a face of the Games for the past decade. Bolt is seeking urgent treatment for a hamstring tear
picked up at Jamaican national trials, but remains hopeful of competing and potentially adding to his tally of six Olympic titles.
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.”