Sergey Shubenkov
Sergey Shubenkov will be one of the big names to feature in Stars 2016.Reuters

Russia have always been known as a powerhouse when it comes to the Olympics, but the doping scandal that came to light has left the nation embarrassed, leading to athletes being banned. As a result, the contingent heading to Rio will be significantly less, with long jumper Darya Klishina the only track and field athlete competing for Russia.

What will the rest of the Rio-bound athletes be doing in Russia then?

Russia have organised a 'Stars 2016' event, which will also include some of the banned track and field athletes competing during the week. This event will be their 'Games'. As many as 135 athletes, including world champions Sergey Shubenkov and Maria Kuchina, will compete at Moscow's Znamensky Brothers Stadium.

"They (competitors) include Olympic champions and medal holders as well as less renowned athletes forbidden to compete in Rio," The AAP quoted national coach Yuriy Borzakovskiy as saying.

These world champions and other originally Rio-bound athletes, who were waiting for this mega event, will now have to be content with their own local version. The doping scandal was so huge that calls for a blanket ban on Russia for the Olympics 2016 came about from several quarters, even if it did not happen, in the end.

The IOC left it to the respective sports federations to take a call. So one thing is for sure – Russia will miss some of their major stars in the competition. It is still not clear as to the number of athletes who will represent Russia in the Olympics.

President Vladmir Putin believes the Olympics minus Russian athletes will be a lesser spectacle.

"It is one thing to win in competition with your equals, with strong rivals, after all, and quite another thing to compete against athletes clearly not of your level," Putin said. "Such a victory does not have the same taste and is perhaps even quite tasteless."

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