THE International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected clarion calls for Russia to be banned from next month’s Rio Olympics over the nation’s doping record, offering athletes a lifeline by ruling that decisions on individual competitors will be left to the international sports federations.
The IOC’s decision on Sunday, less than two weeks before the Rio Games opens on Aug. 5, follows the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) call for a blanket ban in response to the independent McLaren report that found evidence of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“I think in this way, we have balanced on the one hand, the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on a conference call.
“In this way we are protecting the clean athletes because of the high criteria we set. This may not please everybody, but this result is one which is respecting the rules of justice and all the clean athletes all over the world.”
WADA and 14 national anti-doping organisations had urged the IOC to impose a blanket ban in the wake of the damning McLaren report, but former Olympic fencing champion Bach said that Russian sportsmen and women “will have to clear the highest hurdle to take part in the Olympics”.