We will discover over the next few days what Thomas Bach really thinks “zero tolerance" on doping should look like.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President has never been shy to present himself as the great crusader in the fight to stamp out the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs, although there has been precious little evidence to back up. Now, though, he has his chance.

Does he stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his old friend Sebastian Coe and ensure the ban on Russian athletes competing at this year's Olympic Games is enforced? Or does he side with his new friend, Vladimir Putin, and come up with a solution which would allow Russia to be represented in the Olympics' flagship sport at Rio 2016?

The decision Bach makes will help define how history will remember his stewardship of the Olympic Movement.

Anything less than full unequivocal support for Coe, the man he calls "Shakespeare", will leave the Briton feeling as double-crossed as Othello. It will also end any claim Bach has to be taken seriously when he talks about heading the fight on doping.

The risk, however, is that Putin could be so angry with the IAAF's decision to ostracize Russia he could initiate a boycott of Rio 2016, plunging the Olympics back into the dark ages of the 1970s and 1980s when three consecutive Games between Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984 were overshadowed by countries using them to score cheap political points.

It is, though, a risk Bach must take to save the future of the Olympic Movement.

I cannot remember a time when how the IOC views itself is so at odds with how the wider public sees it. Since Bach was elected to succeed Jacques Rogge as its President in 2013, he has positioned himself as the leader of world sport, the guardian of its morals, a man who has adopted a righteous place at the top of the pantheon.

The public, on the other hand, see the IOC as overseeing a world which resembles the Augean stables. And Bach has certainly not so far demonstrated himself to be the modern-day Hercules that world sport is searching for.

He failed to show much leadership as the crisis developed at FIFA over a period of several months and only condemned fellow IOC member Sepp Blatter when it was clear that he was doomed.

Then, IAAF President Lamine Diack was used as his spearhead in the campaign to bring down Marius Vizer as President of SportAccord after he had publicly criticised Bach and questioned the effectiveness of Agenda 2020, only for the Senegalese to be exposed a few months later for corruption and greediness, using his position to allow his sons to blackmail Russian and Turkish athletes so that positive drugs tests were covered up.

Under Bach, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov has been promoted to chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission overseeing Beijing's preparations to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, even at a time his country is under intense pressure over its record on doping.

When I asked Bach in a press conference in March whether he thought this was an appropriate appointment at this time he arrogantly dismissed me. "Neither the ROC nor President Zhukov is under any kind of suspicion or investigation," he told me.

There are plenty of people, however, who believe they should be. The crisis in athletics has led to increasing claims that a similar state-supported programme has been operating in swimming and many other sports for many years. The amount of Russian athletes in a whole range of different disciplines who tested positive for meldonium after it was added to the banned list earlier this year by the World Anti-Doping Agency illustrated just how ingrained trying to gain a pharmaceutical edge is in Russian sport.

Zhukov, as head of the ROC, the supreme sports authority in Russia, must have, at the very least, heard whispers about what was going on? I have met the man whose day job is being First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma in Moscow on several occasions and he does not strike me as a man who is anything but fully in control of his brief.

Such have been the tsunami of allegations about Russian sport recently, including one by Grigory Rodchenkov, director of the laboratory during the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, that he switched urine samples to ensure athletes from the home country who had been using banned drugs did not test positive, that many will be thinking that, instead of just the athletics team being banned from Rio 2016, it should be the whole squad.

The IOC Executive Board are due to hold a teleconference tomorrow to "discuss the appropriate next steps", which does not sound like they are planning to send Coe and his IAAF colleagues a letter of congratulations for the tough and difficult decision they reached at their Council meeting in Vienna today. (Funny, I don't remember Bach calling an emergency teleconference of the IOC Executive Board last year after Bulgaria's weightlifting team were banned from Rio 2016 following a series of positive drugs tests...)

Before the call begins, each of the Executive Board could do worse than read a couple of snippets from the report of Rune Andersen, the Norwegian heading the IAAF Task Force, which has been working with Russia since they were banned last November.

"The deep-seated culture of tolerance (or worse) for doping that got them suspended in the first place appears not to have changed materially to date," it reads. "A strong and effective anti-doping infrastructure has still not been created.

‘There are detailed allegations, which are already partly substantiated, that the Ministry of Sport, far from supporting the anti-doping effort, has in fact orchestrated systematic doping and the covering up."

When Coe meets Bach he reciprocates by calling him "professor". It is a joke dating back to 1981 when the pair were among several leading athletes whose ideas at the Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden helped shape the future of the Olympic Movement.

At that meeting, Coe addressed the problem of doping in sport and how it could destroy the Olympic Movement if it was not checked. Bach could do worse than think back 35 years and remember that warning.