IOC delays decision on banning Russia from Rio Olympics

The IOC is exploring legal options before making a decision on whether to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics.
DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

The IOC is exploring legal options before making a decision on whether to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics.

Russia's participation in the Rio Olympics remained in the balance on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) 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 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.

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It added that the committee would have to take into consideration the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision due on Thursday (Friday NZT) 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 WADA and compiled by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, on Monday (Tuesday NZT) revealed evidence of widespread 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 swapped with "clean" ones with methods developed by the domestic intelligence service (FSB), while deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh decided which athletes would be protected.

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The IOC said on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) it had started disciplinary action against officials mentioned in the report and that anyone implicated would not be given accreditation for Rio.

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 enquiry.

It also instructed all international Winter Olympic 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.

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 report by Canadian lawyer Richard Mclaren, 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.

+ The Executive Board is "greatly concerned" by deficiencies in the fight against doping uncovered by the McLaren report. It calls on the World Anti-Doping Agency to convene an extraordinary conference on doping in 2017

+ Russian athletes implicated in doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi should be referred by 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 enquiry 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.

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 - Reuters

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