IOC won’t ban Rus­sia from Games

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - GRA­HAM DUN­BAR AND STEPHEN WIL­SON LAUSANNE, SWITZER­LAND —

Olympic lead­ers have stopped short of im­pos­ing a com­plete ban on Rus­sia from the Rio de Janeiro Games, leav­ing in­di­vid­ual global sports fed­er­a­tions to de­cide which ath­letes should be cleared to com­pete.

The de­ci­sion, an­nounced Sun­day af­ter a three-hour meet­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee’s ex­ec­u­tive board, came just 12 days be­fore the Aug. 5 open­ing of the Games.

“We had to bal­ance the col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity and the in­di­vid­ual jus­tice to which ev­ery hu­man be­ing and ath­lete is en­ti­tled to,” IOC pres­i­dent Thomas Bach said.

The IOC re­jected calls from the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency and many other an­ti­dop­ing bod­ies to ex­clude the en­tire Rus­sian Olympic team fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of state-spon­sored cheat­ing.

Rus­sia’s track and field ath­letes have al­ready been banned by the IAAF, the sport’s gov­ern­ing body, a de­ci­sion that was up­held Thurs­day by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport, and was ac­cepted by the IOC again on Sun­day.

Calls for a com­plete ban on Rus­sia in­ten­si­fied af­ter Richard McLaren, a Cana­dian lawyer com­mis­sioned by WADA, is­sued a re­port Mon­day ac­cus­ing Rus­sia’s sports min­istry of over­see­ing a vast dop­ing pro­gram of its Olympic ath­letes.

But the IOC board, meet­ing via tele­con­fer­ence, de­cided against the ul­ti­mate sanc­tion, which was in line with

Bach’s re­cent state­ments stress­ing the need to take in­di­vid­ual jus­tice into ac­count.

“An ath­lete should not suf­fer and should not be sanc­tioned for a sys­tem in which he was not im­pli­cated,” Bach told re­porters on a con­fer­ence call af­ter Sun­day’s meet­ing.

Bach ac­knowl­edged the de­ci­sion “might not please ev­ery­body.”

“This is not about ex­pec­ta­tions,” he said. “This is about do­ing jus­tice to clean ath­letes all over the world.”

Rus­sian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Alexan­der Zhukov pre­sented his case to the IOC board at the be­gin­ning of Sun­day’s meet­ing, promis­ing full co-op­er­a­tion with in­ves­ti­ga­tions and guar­an­tee­ing “a com­plete and com­pre­hen­sive re­struc­tur­ing of the Rus­sian an­ti­dop­ing sys­tem.”

The IOC also re­jected the ap­pli­ca­tion by Rus­sian whistle­blower Yu­lia Stepanova, the 800-me­tre run­ner and former doper who helped ex­pose the dop­ing scan­dal in her home­land, to com­pete un­der a neu­tral flag at the Games.

The IOC said Stepanova, now liv­ing in the United States, did not meet the cri­te­ria for run­ning un­der the IOC flag and, be­cause she had com­mit­ted dop­ing vi­o­la­tions, did not sat­isfy the “eth­i­cal re­quire­ments” to com­pete in the Games. How­ever, the IOC added that it would in­vite her and her hus­band, Vi­taly Stepanov, to at­tend the Games.

While de­cid­ing against an out­right ban, the IOC said it was im­pos­ing tough el­i­gi­bil­ity con­di­tions, in­clud­ing bar­ring en­try for the Rio Games of any Rus­sian ath­lete who has ever been sanc­tioned for dop­ing.

The IOC said it would ac­cept the en­try only of those Rus­sian ath­letes who meet cer­tain con­di­tions set out for the 28 in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tions to ap­ply.

The fed­er­a­tions “should carry out an in­di­vid­ual analysis of each ath­lete’s an­ti­dop­ing record, tak­ing in ac­count only re­li­able ad­e­quate in­ter­na­tional tests ... in or­der to en­sure a level play­ing field,” the IOC said.

The com­mit­tee asked the fed­er­a­tions to ex­am­ine the in­for­ma­tion and names of ath­letes and sports im­pli­cated in the McLaren re­port. Any of those im­pli­cated should not be al­lowed into the Games, it said.

The IOC said the fed­er­a­tions would have to ap­ply their own rules if they want to ban an en­tire Rus­sian team from their events in Rio, as the IAAF has al­ready done for track and field.

Rus­sian en­tries must be ex­am­ined and up­held by an ex­pert from the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport, the IOC said.

Rus­sian ath­letes who are cleared for the Games will be sub­jected to a “rig­or­ous ad­di­tional out-of-com­pe­ti­tion test­ing pro­gram.”

The de­ci­sion was loaded with geopo­lit­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

Rus­sia faces a pos­si­ble ban from the Par­a­lympic Games. Cit­ing ev­i­dence in McLaren’s re­port of dop­ing among Rus­sian Par­a­lympic ath­letes, the In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee said Fri­day it will de­cide next month whether to ex­clude the coun­try from the Sept. 7 to 18 event in Rio.

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