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Haile Gebrselassie: Athletics Needs Russia More Than Russia Needs Athletics

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Haile Gebrselassie: Athletics Needs Russia More Than Russia Needs Athletics
2-time Olympic Gold Medallist and one of the greatest long distance runners of all time, Haile Gebrselassie has called for an end to the blanket ban imposed on Russia due to state sponsored doping. The 43-year old in an interview with CNN-News18, mentioned that majority of the Russian athletes are suffering because of the deeds of a few.

New Delhi: 2-time Olympic Gold Medallist and one of the greatest long distance runners of all time, Haile Gebrselassie has called for an end to the blanket ban imposed on Russia due to state sponsored doping. The 43-year old in an interview with CNN-News18, mentioned that majority of the Russian athletes are suffering because of the deeds of a few.

“To punish the Russian athletes as a mass is a little unfair. The generation gap is going to happen in Russia in another few years, and my worry is that the next generation is going to suffer because of this.”

The 43-year old further added that athletics is at loss if the blanket ban on Russia is not withdrawn, and that the sport needs Russia in the long run.

“Russia have a really strong team. They compete with the best out there. In soccer if there is no Brazil, Germany then there is something missing. Same with Russia.”

“Even in India if there is no Pakistan to compete with, then there is no fun. So in order to get the best out of the likes of Kenya or Ethiopia, we need Russia,” Haile said.

But having shown solidarity towards the Russian athletes, the recently appointed head of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation stands by his country’s decision of a prison sentence for those caught doping.

“Government of Ethiopia has a very strict law on doping, and it is not about sentencing athletes to prison, it is about saving athletics and protecting the sport.”

Haile set 27-world records in distance running during his illustrious career, but over the years there has been a new wave in long distance track and field events. Mo Farah scripted a new chapter in the record books with a double-double in 5000m and 10000m events at the Rio Olympics.

43-year old Haile believes that much of Farah’s dominance is due to the fact that he has managed to exploit the weaknesses of the Africans.

“Mo Farah is having a great time because he has identified the weaknesses of his competitors. These events have been traditionally dominated by Kenyans and Ethiopians but Farah has now climbed up the ladder.”

“It is Mo Farah’s time in athletics right now, because the Africans haven’t been able to cope up with him. I think the Ethiopians and the Kenyans need to change their techniques to succeed”.

There has been a change in the outlook of athletics over the past few months, with the introduction of a new concept to help popularize the sport – Nitro Athletics.

The inaugural Nitro Athletics event saw a massive turnout in Melbourne, but the 4-time World Championship gold medallist believes that much of its success was down to the presence of Usain Bolt.

The 8-time Olympic Gold medallist along with Asafa Powell led team All-Stars to victoty by completing a clean sweep in all formats.

“This is the ideal model needed right now to help increase the popularity. Sebastian Coe has taken the right step because we need more audience to the sport rather than more athletes.”

“Everybody wants to watch Usain Bolt, because when he is running the stadium is full. But what after him? We need someone like him to attract the audience. Without him we need to change the look of the sport to make it more attractive”, he concluded.

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