Swimmers say sanctions won't make medals easier

STILL DIFFICULT: Matt Abood says the banning of top Russian sprinter won't make Australia's job in the pool any easier.
STILL DIFFICULT: Matt Abood says the banning of top Russian sprinter won't make Australia's job in the pool any easier. Quinn Rooney

SWIMMING: The International Swimming Federation's decision to ban seven Russian swimmers from competing at the Rio Olympics may have boosted Australia's medal chances, but the Dolphins' mentors insist it is the last thing on their minds.

Among those seven are Vladimir Morozov - the second fastest man in the 100m freestyle behind Australia's Cameron McEvoy - and fellow sprinter Nikita Lobintsev, dealing a severe blow to Russia's chances in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren was keen to bypass the Russian doping scandal, during a press conference at the team's pre-Olympic training camp in Auburn, Alabama.

"There is a time to talk about those things. This is not the time,” he said.

"It can only be a distraction from what this team is here for.

"We are here to prepare ourselves, acclimatise to Rio time zone, Rio competition times.

"We have a wonderful team to look after and to look forward to racing and that's what we are focused on, nothing else.

"We don't have any control over anything that anyone else is deciding on, so we're not bothered by it.

"We're there to race everybody who is there and leave all other decisions to the involved parties.”

Unsurprisingly, team manager Wayne Lomas was on the same page as the head coach.

"We can't control what's happening in Russia, we can't control where the IOC or other bodies have gone with that,” Lomas said.

"What we can control is our own environment in Auburn, our own preparation and the coaches can do a great job of looking after the swimmers.”

Australian sprinter Matt Abood was drawn on to the subject of Morozov and Lobintsev, but insisted their ineligibility would not have a major impact on the Australian team's medal chances.

"It will be minimal because there are still four or five other teams who can make it happen on the night,” he said.

"Whether it's them or anyone else, it doesn't make the task any easier.”

World 100m freestyle record-holder and team leader Cate Campbell insisted she had dismissed the entire issue from her mind.

"My opinion on this doesn't matter,” she said.

"The decision has been made.

"It's not my job to be happy or disappointed with the decision. It's my job to go and race my best.

"It really has no bearing on my preparations and it changes nothing in my mindset going into Rio.”


Topics:  australian swimming team matt abood rio2016 russian athletes

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