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Russian doping: IOC delays decision on possible blanket ban for Rio Olympics

The IOC executive board is seeking legal advice over a blanket ban from Rio 2016 versus Russian athletes’ individual justice rights. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

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• IOC seeks legal advice over blanket ban versus athletes’ rights to justice
• McLaren report had revealed extent of Russian cover-up

The fate of Russia’s participation in the Olympics is likely to remain unclear for several days after the IOC decided against a quick decision over whether to exclude the country’s athletes from the Rio Games. Instead, after a four-hour teleconference of senior figures on its executive board, the IOC said it would wait for legal advice over whether a ban would be enforceable.

It also admitted that it would wait for Thursday’s ruling from the CAS, which is considering whether 68 Russian track and field stars should be allowed to compete in Rio, before making a final decision.

Some senior sports figures are privately questioning whether the IOC is still hoping to find a way for Russia to compete at the Rio Games, which begin in just over two weeks’ time.

They wonder whether the IOC is inching towards a proposal to allow individual sporting federations to decide whether to implement separate bans – which, given the tight timescale, will be almost impossible to push through.

In a statement the IOC said it would “explore its legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes – versus the right to individual justice” and that it had “started disciplinary actions related to the involvement of officials within the Russian ministry of sports and other persons mentioned in the report because of violations of the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code”.

It said: “The executive board reiterates and supports the measure already announced to reverse the ‘presumption of innocence’ of athletes from Russia with regard to doping. This means that the eligibility of each Russian athlete will have to be decided by his or her international federation based on an individual analysis of his or her international anti‑doping record.”

The IOC’s executive board said it had initiated disciplinary action related to individuals named by McLaren in his report on Monday, including officials from the Russian sports ministry. A disciplinary commission has been set up to establish the facts in these cases and conduct hearings, which will be chaired by Guy Canivet, the vice-chairman of the IOC’s ethics commission and a former member of the French constitutional court.

The IOC also announced a number of interim measures, to be reviewed at its meeting in December 2016, which included asking all international Olympic winter sports federations to “freeze” any preparations to stage an event in Russia and to “actively seek” alternative hosts. It also said it would retest all samples given by Russian athletes during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, which McLaren revealed were “sabotaged” by a mass doping cover‑up.

The IOC confirmed it would not organise or give patronage to any sports event or meeting in Russia or accredit any Russian sports ministry official, or any other individual implicated in the McLaren report, for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics. And it asked Wada to extend McLaren’s mandate in order for him to communicate the names of any athletes implicated in the report to the respective international federation, and to the IOC itself where appropriate.

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Wada report confirms state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at Sochi.
“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games,” said the IOC president, Thomas Bach. “Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated.”

Meanwhile the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said his country’s athletes were continuing their preparations normally despite the possibility of the Games boycott following McLaren’s damning report which lifted the lid on state-sponsored doping cover-up involving Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man, the Russian intelligence services, and top sports officials.

“Russia is getting ready for the Olympics, the Russian team is getting ready for the Olympics,” Peskov said.

“We are strong supporters of Olympic ideas and members of the Olympic family and do not want such situations to damage the Olympic movement.”

The deputy Russian sports minister, Yuri Nagornykh, lost his job following McLaren’s report, but the sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, survived because, according to Peskov, “Mutko was not mentioned in Wada’s report as a person behind the wrongdoings, which other people are suspected. Mutko is not mentioned as an actual perpetrator.

“The Russian side is determined to conduct a thorough investigation into all the allegations,” he added. “All the necessary investigative actions are under way.”

Key points from the IOC statement
• The IOC’s executive board has initiated disciplinary action related to individuals named in the McLaren report, including officials from the Russian sports ministry. A disciplinary commission has been set up to establish the facts in these cases and conduct hearings. The commission will be chaired by Guy Canivet, the vice-chairman of the IOC’s ethics commission and a former member of the French constitutional court.

• The IOC has said it will “carefully evaluate” the McLaren report. It will “explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of Russian athletes” from the Rio 2016 Olympics, weighed against “the right to individual justice”. One significant factor it says it will take into account is the decision by the court of arbitration for sport (Cas) on the appeal by Russian track and field athletes against the IAAF ban.

The IOC executive board also agreed a series of provisional measures, to be reviewed at its meeting in December 2016, as follows:

• The IOC will not organise or give patronage to any sports event or meeting in Russia.

• It will not accredit any Russian sports ministry official or any other individual implicated in the McLaren report for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

• It will conduct a full inquiry into all Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and their coaches, officials and support staff, to include a reanalysis of the samples provided by those athletes.

• The IOC has asked all international Olympic winter sports federations to “freeze” any preparations to stage an event in Russia and to “actively seek” alternative hosts.

• The IOC has asked all international sports federations to conduct full inquiries and impose any necessary sanctions on the Russian national federations within those sports if there has been any infringement of the World Anti-Doping Code.

The key points from the concluding section of the statement were:

• The IOC reiterated its stance from 21 June that Russian athletes will not be presumed innocent and that the eligibility of an athlete to compete at the Rio Games will be a matter for the international federation in that individual’s sport.

• The IOC has asked Wada to extend McLaren’s mandate in order for him to communicate the names of any athletes implicated in the report to the respective international federation, and to the IOC itself where appropriate.

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