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Britain's Sayers calls for long-term blanket ban on Russia

Britain Athletics - The British Championships - Alexander Stadium, Birmingham - 26/6/16 Great Britain's Goldie Sayers during the javelin Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers Livepic
Britain Athletics - The British Championships - Alexander Stadium, Birmingham - 26/6/16Great Britain's Goldie Sayers during the javelinAction Images via Reuters / Andrew BoyersLivepic

(Reuters) - Javelin thrower Goldie Sayers said only a long-term ban on Russia would lead to "cultural changes" in the country after an independent report revealed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The findings of the investigation into Russian doping, published on Monday, led to WADA recommending that the IOC and International Paralympic Committee consider banning all athletes entered by the Russian Olympic Committee for next month's Rio Olympics.

Sayers threw a British record 65.75 metres in the 2008 Beijing Games but was denied a bronze medal after Russia's Mariya Abakumova won the silver medal.

In May this year, Abakumova was reported to be one of 14 Russian athletes implicated in doping following the retesting of urine samples from the 2008 Games. If confirmed Abakumova is likely to lose her Beijing medal.

"The only way to teach Russia that they must not cheat is to hit them where it hurts, and that has to mean that the IOC bans the country's athletes from all competition at Rio de Janeiro," Sayers wrote in a Times newspaper column.

"One ban is not enough to ensure a cultural change. It will take at least 10 years for that to happen. It has to be a long-term process and Russia will have to prove that it is changing, not just that it accepts its short-term punishment.

"The worst outcome would be a one or two-year ban and for there to be an expectation of change that is not backed up by hard evidence."

Sayers said she holds no grudges against Abakumova, who she felt was forced to take performance enhancing drugs by her country.

"I am not being vindictive. I felt a little anger towards Abakumova, but much more towards her country. She lives in a state that expects its athletes to dope," the 34-year-old wrote.

"The sad thing is that everyone suffers... I dreamed of being an Olympian and so I experienced joy and elation at realising that dream and yet at exactly the same time I felt anger and some bitterness."

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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