By Gene Cherry
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Americans Sam Kendricks and Devon Allen are disappointed Russian athletes will not be joining them in the Rio Olympics.
Allegations of state-sponsored doping led the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban the entire Russian athletics team from the Games.Both pole vaulter Kendricks and hurdler Allen said on Thursday they wished that was not the case.
"I am certainly unhappy that several of my Russian friends were not able to compete," said Kendricks, a reservist in the U.S. Army who, like Allen, is projected to win a medal at the Games.
"I have no doubt in their ability to compete fairly. But that's just the nature of the beast this year."
While other international federations chose to decide on a case by case basis whether Russians competitors could participate in Rio, the IAAF maintained its ban on the Russian athletics federation.
"I can only express that I am kinda disappointed that this issue didn't come to light sooner so that the clean athletes could shine through," Kendricks said.
The second-ranked pole vaulter in the world this year behind French world record holder Renaud Lavillenie, Kendricks said he understood it is a process athletics and other sports must go through to help clean up doping.
"More light on this issue makes it so that everybody is held to the same standard," he said.
While no Russian currently is ranked among the top 10 pole vaulters in the world, "the Russians have always had a history of being very immaculate in the event," Kendricks said.
Allen is probably even more affected by the Russian athletics ban because world 110-metres hurdles champion Sergey Shubenkov is among the almost six dozen Russians missing from the Games
"As an athlete you want to always compete against the best,” said Allen.
"The defending world champion is Russian so as a competitor it is kind of disappointing because obviously I want to compete against him. But on the other side, I don’t make the rules. I just show up and compete."
(Reporting by Gene Cherry, editing by Neil Robinson)