Sports

'A nuclear option'

IOC chief Bach says blanket ban over Russia is not what the Olympic Movement stands for

A blanket ban on Russia at the Rio de Janeiro Games would have had devastating consequences, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said yesterday.

The IOC opted not to ban all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics after revelations of a wide state-backed doping programme across many sports.

Instead, it chose a set of criteria for athletes to meet, including a clean doping past and sufficient testing at international events, that so far has allowed more than 250 out of the original 387 Russian athletes to be cleared for Rio.

Bach, speaking at the IOC session in the Brazilian city, said preventing clean athletes from competing and treating them as "collateral damage" would have been wrong.

"This blanket ban of the Russian Olympic Committee has been called by some the 'nuclear option' and the innocent athletes would have to be considered as collateral damage," Bach said.

"Leaving aside that such a comparison is completely out of any proportion when it comes to the rules of sport. Let us just for a moment consider the consequences of a 'nuclear option'. The result is death and devastation...

"The cynical 'collateral damage approach' is not what the Olympic Movement stands for."

Several anti-doping bodies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), as well as those from the United States, Canada and Germany, among others, had called on the IOC to implement a blanket ban on all Russian athletes.

They expressed disappointment following the IOC's decision to allow some Russians to compete and accused the Games' ruling body of lacking the leadership and courage to punish Russia.

"What is not acceptable is the insinuation of some proponents of the blanket ban that those who do not share their opinions are not fighting against doping," Bach said.

"On behalf of all these supporters, I reject this insinuation in the strongest terms. We may disagree how we get there, but we all work towards the same goal of protecting clean athletes.

"Despite these discrepancies, we agree we must not allow such a situation to happen again."

Bach also said the doping system needed a complete restructure.

"Engagement and not isolation is the key to build a more robust anti-doping system," he said.

Meanwhile, Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev have been cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics, their representatives said yesterday, though there was no official confirmation.

NO CONFIRMATION

World swimming's governing body Fina, the Russian swimming federation and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have not confirmed that Lobintsev and Morozov will in fact be competing in Rio.

A ruling by CAS was expected this morning (Singapore time).

But speaking to Interfax news agency, Lobintsev's agent, Andrei Mitkov said: "I can confirm that Lobintsev and Morozov are being allowed to compete in the Games.

"We will meet with IOC representatives to discuss the outcome for this situation."

Lawyer Artyom Patsev, who represents the swimmers, told TASS news agency that they had received the green light from Fina to compete in Rio.

Morozov, 24, and Lobintsev, 27, have called on the CAS to declare "invalid and unenforceable" an IOC order for federations to exclude athletes implicated in the investigation into Russia's state-run doping system.

They were among seven Russians banned by Fina last month.

- Wire Services.

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