No Russia ban, yet
IOC delays decision on axing powerhouses from 2016 Olympic Games
Russia's participation in the Rio Olympics remained in the balance yesterday after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would "explore legal options" for banning the country from the Games.
At an emergency IOC Executive Board meeting in Switzerland, the day after an explosive independent report detailed a systematic and state-run doping programme in Russia, members fell short of an immediate ban, but they did issue a series of measures relating to the report.
"With regard to the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the IOC will carefully evaluate the IP Report," a statement said.
"It will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice."
It added that the committee would have to take into consideration the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision due tomorrow concerning the IAAF rules, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Charter.
CAS is due to rule on the dispute between Russia, 68 of its athletes and the governing body of world athletics over their Rio participation after the IAAF banned the country from the Rio track-and-field programme.
The report, commissioned by World Anti-Doping Agency and compiled by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, on Monday revealed evidence of state-sponsored doping by Russian sports men and women and extensive cover-ups, particularly in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Russian city of Sochi.
Positive tests were covered up and "dirty" urine samples swopped with "clean" ones with methods developed by the domestic intelligence service, while deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh decided which athletes would be protected.
The IOC said yesterday Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and other ministry officials would be barred from attending next month's Rio Games.
Back home, the 57-year-old Mutko appears to have retained the support of Russian president Vladimir Putin - a long-time associate - at least for now.
The Kremlin has vowed to suspend officials directly implicated in the McLaren report, but insisted there was no hard proof against Mutko, who has been sports minister since 2008.
His deputy Nagornykh and four other officials have been suspended.
Given the report's details of extensive cover-ups of positive tests in Sochi, the IOC has ordered the immediate re-testing of all Russian athletes who took part, as well as a full inquiry.
It also instructed all international Winter Sports Federations to freeze their preparations for major events in Russia.
It also said it would not back the European Games, scheduled for the country in 2019. - Reuters.
MAIN POINTS FROM IOC MEETING:
- The Executive Board has begun disciplinary action related to the involvement of officials within the Russian Ministry of Sports and other persons mentioned in the McLaren report because of violations of the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code.
- The IOC has not ruled out a complete ban on Russia at the Rio Games, saying it will explore the legal options for imposing it versus the right to individual justice.
- The IOC will not organise or give patronage to any sports event in Russia, including the planned 2019 European Games.
- Russian athletes implicated in doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi should be referred by World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to international federations and the IOC.
- No member of the Russian Ministry for Sport implicated in the report will be accredited for the Rio Olympics.
- The IOC will begin a full inquiry into all Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including forensic analysis.
- All Olympics winter sports federations have been told to halt preparations for any international events in Russia.
- International sports federations are advised to seek sanctions against Russia in cases where the Wada code is breached.
- The Executive Board reiterates its reversal of the "presumption of innocence" of Russian athletes, leaving their fate in the hands of international federations.