POSTED: July 24th 2016

Olympics: IOC opts not to blanket ban Russia and passes the heat to the IFs

IOC President Thomas Bach was under enormous pressure to find a solution © Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach was under enormous pressure to find a solution © Getty Images

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board (EB) decided today in an unanimous agreement to allow Russia to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games coming up in two weeks' time.

IOC President Thomas Bach explained in a conference call, "The IOC Executive Board today had to take a very difficult decision with regards to the timing and the content because as you know the qualification and entry procedure for Rio is well under way the first athletes are already in the Olympic Village. And we had to draw the conclusions from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)'s Independent Person (IP) report of Prof. Richard McLaren.

"While this report was about the system that he revealed in Russia in the Moscow laboratory. So the IOC had the difficult task now to take decisions about the individual athletes and how this is effecting everybody. In this context we had once again to balance the collective responsibility as a concept and the individual justice that every athlete and human being is entitled to.

"As a result you can see in the decision we have rewarded the presumption of innocence for the Russian athletes in this way making them resume collective responsibility for what has happened according to the McLaren Report.

"On the other hand, again natural justice requires that an individual at least have the chance to rebut these allegations and this reversal of their presumption of innocence and therefore we have set the bar to the limit by establishing a number of very strict criteria which every Russian athlete will have to fulfill if he or she wants to participate in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.

"And I think in this way we have balanced on one hand the balance and desire for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete," he concluded.

The IOC EB decided:

1. The IOC will not accept any entry of any Russian athlete in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 unless such athlete can meet the conditions set out below.

2. Entry will be accepted by the IOC only if an athlete is able to provide evidence to the full satisfaction of his or her International Federation (IF) in relation to the following criteria:

                • The IFs*, when establishing their pool of eligible Russian athletes, to apply the World Anti-Doping Code and other principles agreed by the Olympic Summit (21 June 2016).

                • The absence of a positive national anti-doping test cannot be considered sufficient by the IFs. 

                • The IFs should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete's anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete's sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.  

                • The IFs to examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated. Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.

                • The IFs will also have to apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs. 

3. The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction. 

4. The IOC will accept an entry by the ROC only if the athlete's IF is satisfied that the evidence provided meets conditions 2 and 3 above and if it is upheld by an expert from the CAS list of arbitrators appointed by an ICAS Member, independent from any sports organisation involved in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. 

5. 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. 

Beyond these decisions, the IOC EB reaffirmed the provisional measures already taken on 19 July 2016. They remain in place until 31 December 2016, and will be reviewed by the EB in December 2016. 

Additional sanctions and measures may be imposed by the IOC following the final report of the IP and due legal procedure by the IOC Disciplinary Commission established on 19 July 2016 under the chairmanship of Mr Guy Canivet (Vice-Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission, former member of the French Constitutional Court and President of the French Cour de Cassation) and the IOC EB. 

The IOC EB reaffirms its serious concerns about the obvious deficiencies in the fight against doping. The IOC thus emphasises again its call to WADA to fully review their anti-doping system. The IOC will make its contribution to this review by proposing measures for clearer responsibilities, more transparency, better supervision procedures and more independence.

* The IAAF has already established its eligibility pool with regard to Russian athletes.

Other main points in the statement clarify the situation of Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova in that as the IAAF had cleared her to compete as a neutral athlete however the IOC did not agree to give her this opportunity and have invited her and her husband to attend Rio 2016 as IOC Guests.

The IOC Ethics Commission gave their view of the situation to the EB:

"While it is true that Mrs Stepanova's testimony and public statements have made a contribution to the protection and promotion of clean athletes, fair play and the integrity and authenticity of sport, the Rules of the Olympic Charter related to the organisation of the Olympic Games run counter to the recognition of the status of neutral athlete. Furthermore, the sanction to which she was subject and the circumstances in which she denounced the doping practices which she had used herself, do not satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games."

As she did not want to compete any longer under the Russian flag, Stepanova can now find a new NOC in order to continue her athletic career under a different NOC.

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Rio 2016 · Russia

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