Eight's just enough for Aussie rowers as they head to Rio

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Better late than never for the Australian women's eights rowing team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, even if they'll have to borrow a boat and oars.

The Australian women's crew had disbanded after failing to qualify when a third placing at a regatta in Switzerland in late May left the team as first reserves for Rio.

But they reassembled in Melbourne last weekend after the possibility of an Olympic call-up because of Russian athletes facing expulsion over doping.

On Tuesday, world rowing federation FISA said Russian boats in four categories, including the women's eights, were being withdrawn following the strict anti-doping criteria announced by the International Olympic Committee after allegations of widespread doping and cover-ups in Russia.

One of the Russian rowers in the women's eights - Anastasia Karabelshchikova - had served a previous doping ban.

''We all called in to a hotline and the head of Rowing Australia said `It's happening girls, pack your bags you are going to Rio','' Alexandra Hagan, one of the members of the Australian team, said Wednesday. ''We all kind of screamed and cried and I can't quite remember what happened, but here we are, unbelievable.''

The Australian women's eight crew will arrive in Rio on Aug. 5 - the day of the opening ceremony - and just three days before their first heat.

They'll also have to race in an unfamiliar boat using borrowed oars because the one they used in Switzerland was shipped back to Australia and can't be sent to Brazil in time for the start of Olympic racing there.

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