4 Aug 2016

Sport: Vanuatu Volleyballers hoping for Rio callup after Italian fails drugs test

12:45 pm on 4 August 2016

Vanuatu is hopeful of a last-minute Olympic reprieve after reports an Italian beach volleyball player has tested positive for doping.

Viktoria Orsi Toth is understood to have failed a drugs test and been sent home from Rio de Janiero.

Toth and playing partner Marta Menegatti finished eighth in the FIVB World Tour rankings earlier this year to qualify automatically for Rio, with Vanuatu's Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata finishing just outside the top 15 cutoff.

Italian beach volleyballer Viktoria Orsi Toth.

Italian beach volleyballer Viktoria Orsi Toth. Photo: FIVB

Italian officials are believed to be trying to replace Toth with another player before their opening pool match on Monday but the President of Vanuatu Volleyball, Debbie Masauvakalo said they should be banned and Vanuatu promoted to the main draw.

"So we're trying to find out from the FIVB - we're aware that they had meetings yesterday but we have contacted the FIVB and yet to have a reply from them - because...we're the 16th ranked team so if the Italian team is disqualified from the Rio Olympic Games then under the regulations then the next team to qualify under the top 15 would be us," she said.

"To qualify through the top 15 you had to play in 12 Olympic qualification events and if they're going to replace her they must make sure that under Section C of the Olympic qualification document that that player is eligible. There has been a name floating around that they want to replace her with but that player is not eligible ... also we think that the whole Italian team should be disqualified because they qualfied for the Rio Olympic Games under the influence of doping.

"We're aware that the IOC takes doping very seriously, given the current situation with the Russian athletes who are banned because of the result of doping, so we don't see any difference here that given the Italian player's been tested positive that the Italian team should be disqualified ... which is an unfair advantage for all the other teams that are clean in the sport."

Debbie Masauvakalo said, despite receiving no official word from the governing body, Vanuatu is receiving support on the ground in Rio.

"We have the President of the Oceania Volleyball Association, who is also the President of Volleyball Australia, Craig Carter, so he's fighting hard to find a positive answer there so very grateful for him and we also have other executive board members from Oceania Volleyball in Rio and we also have our Chef de Mission from Vanuatu, so we have delegations there but nobody seems to be getting an answer from the FIVB so we're wondering what's going on."

Italy are scheduled to open their Rio campaign on Monday against Canada and Debbie Masauvakalo said time is of the essence.

"We would need to leave today/tomorrow. It is in the FIVB Olympic regulations that they can change the schedule slightly so they could possibly change the match times for Vanuatu so if we were to arrive a little bit later it's in the regulations that they can change but we just look forward to a positive reply from the FIVB."

Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata.

Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata. Photo: FIVB