Rio Olympics 2016: Inside the Russian camp with Svetlana Kuznetsova

Russian athletes in Rio
All of Russia's 68 track and field athletes have been banned from Rio 2016
Olympic Games on the BBC
Hosts: Rio de Janeiro Dates: 5-21 August Rio time: BST -4
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At a time when competitors should be making finishing touches to their Olympic preparations, Russia's athletes have had a very different build-up to Rio 2016.

Claims of state-sponsored doping, subsequent bans and appeals have meant some athletes arriving in Rio unsure whether they will be competing when the Games open on Friday.

Despite this two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, who will represent Russia in tennis, said that the Russian team is "more united than ever".

"I think we come all together and singing the national anthem today, it was a great atmosphere," she told BBC World Service Sport.

"Definitely we try to prove that we deserve it and we are one of the best nations in the world. I think it is very important that this political situation hopefully doesn't touch us and we become even more stronger."

Svetlana Kuznetsova
Svetlana Kuznetsova (left) and a member of her coaching staff in the Rio Olympic village

'We are a clean nation'

Kuznetsova, who represented Russia at the 2004 and 2008 Games, said that it was "frustrating" for the athletes in Rio who still do not know if they will be allowed to compete.

"I believe we are a clean nation and we all try to do our best each day," she said. "We work really hard to achieve a place to be in the Olympic Games and represent our country.

"Tennis is different to sport. We have our Grand Slams and we have our sport but still the Olympics is very important for us. I feel, for example, very sorry for athletes who compete for their life just to be in an Olympics and they couldn't come, and they deserve to come.

"The athletes try to be stronger and become better and help everybody. Hopefully more athletes that deserve will compete."

Reception from other athletes

A number of British athletes were angry at the decision not to ban Russia from competing in Rio, while British IOC member Adam Pengilly said the Russian federation had "mocked" the Olympic movement.

However, Kuznetsova said that she and the athletes had experienced a "great atmosphere" so far in Rio.

"I think anything we are going to get, support or opposite, it is just going to bring us together and stronger," she continued.

"I didn't feel any reaction from other countries. I feel like we are united. We are here, we deserve a place to be here.

"I just miss half of the team that we are missing. The rest is great."

Russian athletes
Russian athletes arriving in Rio

Increased testing for athletes

Despite Russia being under such scrutiny, Kuznetsova said that the athletes were ready to get the Games underway and put the focus back on the field.

"We do have more controls, we do fill out even more forms. We are ready to prove that we are clean and try to do whatever it takes," she added.

"I didn't read the report, it's not my thing. We have our federation who will go against it and go to court or whatever they have to do, they will do.

"My job is to play tennis and try to be more concentrated and motivated and play tennis."

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