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  • UPDATED - IOC Decides Against Blanket Ban for Russia


    07/24/16

    A big day for Thomas Bach and the IOC (ATR)
    (ATR) The IOC has decided against banning the entire Russian team from the Rio Olympics.

    President Thomas Bach and his executive board resisted huge pressure to ban Russia after several hours of discussion at an emergency teleconference on Sunday.

    Two separate sources exclusively broke the news to ATR before Bach held a media teleconference after the EB meeting.

    The IOC has delegated the task of deciding on Russian athletes' participation in Rio to their respective international federations.

    "I am convinced of this decision. I am fine with this decision,” Bach told international media in a conference call.
    Asked by Around the Rings what Bach’s message was to those saying the IOC has been weak on Russia, he said: "Read the decision”.

    “"You can see how high we set the bar for Russian athletes to participate in the [Rio] Games.”

    "The result of today is respecting the rules of justice and the right of all of the clean athletes all over the world."

    Bach said the decision was made unanimously by the IOC executive board with one abstention. He said the IOC had "to balance the collective responsibility as a concept and the individual justice to which every human being, every athlete is entitled to".

    But the hard-hitting reaction from former WADA president Richard Pound underlined divisions in the IOC over the ruling.

    Pound slammed the decision saying the IOC had a “huge opportunity to make a statement. It's been squandered”. On Bach and the IOC, he said it was “zero tolerance for doping, unless it's Russia.”

    The Canadian IOC member, who had stressed the IOC’s reluctance to impose a total ban on Russia earlier this week, told CNN he felt it “unlikely IFs will suspend [Russian] athletes".

    Federations Decide Eligibility Rules

    The IOC announced the conditions under which Russian athletes can compete at the Rio Olympics. The IAAF's ban on the Russian athletics team from Rio, which was upheld at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will provide useful guidance.

    But the IOC's response to the Richard McLaren report, detailing a state-sponsored Russian doping regime at the Sochi 2014 Olympics and beyond, will also inflame athletes groups and national anti-doping agencies who had demanded an outright ban on Russia.

    With less than two weeks to the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, the IOC has piled pressure on the international federations to mobilize their often small resources to decide on the eligibility of Russian athletes, according to a set of criteria.

    Russian athletes will be subject to an individual analysis of their anti-doping records “ taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order
    Richard Pound is hugely critical of IOC's ruling on Russia (Getty Images)
    to ensure a level playing field.

    The IOC urged the IFs to seek information on the names of athletes and national federations implicated.

    “Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games,” the IOC said, adding that the international federations would have to apply their own rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire national governing bodies.

    Athlete groups may react more warmly to the decision to ban any Russian athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping, whether they have served a sanction or not.

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport will also be busy in the next 12 days.

    Russian athletes who pass the checks by the IFs will only be allowed to compete in Rio if the evidence provided to the federations satisfies an expert from the CAS.

    The IOC added: “The entry of any Russian athlete ultimately accepted by the IOC will be subject to a rigorous additional out-of-competition testing programme in coordination with the relevant IF and WADA. Any non-availability for this programme will lead to the immediate withdrawal of the accreditation by the IOC.”

    Speaking to media, Bach admitted that it was an “ambitious timeline” for the IFs to get the work done on each Russian athlete.

    “But we had no choice. We had a report compiled in about 60 days and we had to react to it in a very short time limit,” he said.

    Russian Appeal to IOC

    Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov addressed the IOC in a last-ditch effort to ward off a complete ban. ATR has obtained a copy of his speech.

    Zhukov distanced the ROC from the corrupt anti-doping regime of the past but said the committee had worked hard to overhaul the system in recent months and would continue to cooperate with the IOC, WADA and other Olympic stakeholders.

    He called for the IOC not to punish clean athletes and spoke of doping as “a cancer that could kill sport” if all the appropriate measures were not taken.

    “My question is this: if you treat the cancer by cutting off the patient’s head and killing him, do you consider this as a victory in the fight? That does not seem like a victory to me,” Zhukov said in his 2,000-word speech. “But that is what is happening right now, as dozens of clean athletes are forced to miss the Olympic Games through no fault of their own.”

    “You can all be confident that Russia will change for the better and Russian sport will emerge cleaner. But that can only happen through engagement,” Zhukov said. “It cannot happen through indiscriminate punishment. Our fight is against doping and not with athletes in general or the countries they represent. Responsibility should be fair and it also should be personal.”

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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