Russian athletes get IOC Rio go-ahead

(Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected clarion calls for Russia to be banned from next month’s Rio Olympics over the nation’s doping record, offering Russian athletes a lifeline by ruling that decisions on individual competitors will be left to the international sports federations.

Russian athletes
The logo of the Russian Olympic Committee is seen at its headquarters in Moscow, Russia, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The IOC’s decision on Sunday, less than two weeks before the Rio Games opens on Aug. 5, follows the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) call for a blanket ban in response to the independent McLaren report that found evidence of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“I think in this way, we have balanced on the one hand, the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on a conference call.

“In this way we are protecting the clean athletes because of the high criteria we set. This may not please everybody, but this result is one which is respecting the rules of justice and all the clean athletes all over the world.”

WADA and 14 national anti-doping organisations had urged the IOC to impose a blanket ban in the wake of the damning McLaren report, but former Olympic fencing champion Bach said that Russian athletes “will have to clear the highest hurdle to take part in the Olympics”.

Confusing mess

Russian athletes
Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, speaks during Anti-Doping Intelligence and Investigation Seminar in Singapore February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said the IOC had failed to show leadership with its decision.

“Many, including clean athletes and whistleblowers, have demonstrated courage and strength in confronting a culture of state-supported doping and corruption within Russia,” USADA chief Travis Tygart said.

“Disappointingly, however, in response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership. The decision regarding Russian participation and the confusing mess left in its wake is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes.”

Russia’s Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, said the decision cleared the way for Russian participation.

“I hope that the majority of international federations will very promptly confirm the right of (Russian) sportspeople in different types of sports to take part in the Olympic Games,” Mutko said.

The International Tennis Federation wasted no time in clearing the seven Russian athletes nominated for Rio. The ITF said the players have been subject to a rigorous anti-doping programme outside Russia, which it considers sufficient to meet the IOC’s requirements.

 

 

Spotless record required

For individuals to be allowed to compete at Rio they must have a spotless international record on drug testing, the IOC said, adding athletes who have been sanctioned in the past for doping will not be eligible.

That would dash the hopes of middle-distance runner Yulia Stepanova, the whistleblower and former drug cheat whose initial evidence led to one of the biggest doping scandals in decades.

The IOC had said this week that it would not organise or give patronage to any sports event in Russia and that no member of the Russian Sports Ministry implicated in the McLaren report would be accredited for Rio.

It also ordered the immediate re-testing of all Russian athletes from the Sochi Olympics.

Though a series of international federations, anti-doping agencies and athletes have since called for a blanket ban, some have said they are against punishing innocent athletes.

“It would be quite difficult for us to think we should ban an entire team, which will include some cyclists who are not implicated in any of these stories we’ve been hearing,” said Brian Cookson, president of the International Cycling Union.

“We’re going to have to look at it case by case, rider by rider and team by team. At the end of the day, Russians are not the only sportsmen or women who have been found doping.”

Russian officials and government officers have said the doping allegations are part of a Western conspiracy against their country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had warned that the affair could split the Olympic movement, bringing echoes of the 1980s. The United States led a political boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games and the Soviet Union led an Eastern Bloc boycott of the Los Angeles Games four years later.

By Karolos Grohmann
Additional reporting by Steve Tongue, Gene Cherry and Jack Stubbs
Editing by David Goodman

 

 

 

(Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday that it would not impose a blanket ban on Russia for next month’s Rio Games over the nation’s doping record.

Here is the IOC statement.

Russian athletes
President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach speaks at the closing news conference following the IOC executive board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

The IOC Executive Board (EB) has today further studied the question of the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. In its deliberations, the IOC EB was guided by a fundamental rule of the Olympic Charter to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sport.

The study included the discussion of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Independent Person (IP) Report by Prof. Richard McLaren; the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on 21 July 2016 concerning the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF); as well as the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code.

Given the urgency of the situation, with the Olympic Games Rio 2016 starting in 12 days, and the athletes’ entry process already underway, the IOC EB had to take a preliminary decision with regard to the participation of Russian athletes in Rio de Janeiro. Prof. McLaren states in his report that it “fulfils partially the mandate of the Independent Person”. This is why the IOC supports his request to continue and finalise his work. On the other hand, this situation leads to an urgency for the IOC which does not allow it sufficient time for hearings for affected athletes, officials and organisations.

Russian athletes
Russian Olympic Committee head Alexander Zhukov speaks during a news conference following a meeting of executive board of the Russian Olympic Committee in Moscow, Russia, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The IOC EB has given the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) the opportunity to present the case of the Russian athletes and the ROC. This was done by Mr Alexander Zhukov, ROC President, at the beginning of the EB telephone conference, which he left immediately following his presentation.

During his presentation, Mr. Zhukov explained that the Russian Federation and the ROC guarantee full cooperation with all international organisations to shed light on the issue in every respect. He also guaranteed that the ROC commits to a complete and comprehensive restructuring of the Russian anti-doping system. In this context, he stressed that the ROC is committed to clean sport and would work towards guaranteeing clean sport in Russia.

He further stated that all Russian athletes selected for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 have been tested over the last six months by foreign anti-doping agencies. Samples were taken by foreign doping control officers and the samples analysed in foreign laboratories. Russian athletes who participated in different competitions in all sports have submitted more than 3,000 doping samples. The vast majority of the results were negative.

The IOC EB discussed the status of the ROC. In this respect, it took note of the fact that the IP Report made no findings against the ROC as an institution.

The IOC EB took note of a letter dated 23 July 2016 from the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). In this letter the ISSF confirms having received from WADA information about the three “disappearing samples” concerning shooting. The ISSF states that these three samples had been entered, at the time they were reported, into WADA’s ADAMS Results Management System as positives, and all the result management procedures have already been followed.

On the basis of the Findings of the IP Report, all Russian athletes seeking entry to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 are considered to be affected by a system subverting and manipulating the anti-doping system. The IP Report indicates that, due to “the highly compressed timeline”, the IP has “only skimmed the surface of the extensive data available”. The IOC EB therefore came to the conclusion that this view cannot be restricted only to athletes from the 20 Olympic summer sports mentioned in the IP Report.

Under these exceptional circumstances, Russian athletes in any of the 28 Olympic summer sports have to assume the consequences of what amounts to a collective responsibility in order to protect the credibility of the Olympic competitions, and the “presumption of innocence” cannot be applied to them. On the other hand, according to the rules of natural justice, individual justice, to which every human being is entitled, has to be applied. This means that each affected athlete must be given the opportunity to rebut the applicability of collective responsibility in his or her individual case.

After deliberating, 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:
  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.

Editing by Ed Osmond

 

 

 

Russian athletes
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Sunday he was grateful to the International Olympic Committee for not imposing a blanket ban on Russia competing at the Rio Olympics.

Mutko said he hoped the majority international sports federations would now support the rights of Russian sportspeople hoping to compete at the Games in August.

Reporting by Dmitry Rogovitksiy and Alexander Winning
Writing by Jack Stubbs
Editing by Mark Heinrich

 

 

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov said on Sunday a ruling by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to impose a blanket ban on Russia was on of the hardest decisions in the history of the Olympic movement.

Zhukov said the decision by the IOC’s ruling 15-member executive board was taken unanimously.

The Rio Olympics begin on Aug. 5.

Reporting by Alexander Winning
Writing by Jack Stubbs
Editing by Mark Heinrich

 

 

 

Russian athletes
General view of athletes’ accommodation can be seen during a guided tour for journalists to the 2016 Rio Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

(Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) failed to demonstrate “decisive leadership” when it declined to ban all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics, the chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said on Sunday.

The IOC resisted calls for a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing in next month’s Games due to the country’s doping record, leaving decisions on individual athletes’ participation with their sports federations.

“Disappointingly, in response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership,” Travis Tygart said in a statement.

“The conflict of interest is glaring,” added Tygart, who had been outspoken in calling for a complete ban.

Tygart also had strong words for the IOC’s failure to allow Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova to compete in Rio.

Russian athletes
Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, speaks during Anti-Doping Intelligence and Investigation Seminar in Singapore February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

“The decision to refuse her entry in to the Games is incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward,” the American said.

Revelations by the former drugs cheat and her husband helped expose the massive doping problem in her country. They are currently in hiding in the United States.

Tygart said many athletes and whistleblowers had the courage to confront the culture of state-supported doping in Russia.

“The decision regarding Russian participation and the confusing mess left in its wake is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes,” Tygart added.

“It is so frustrating that in this incredibly important moment, they would pass the baton to sports federations who may lack the adequate expertise or collective will to appropriately address the situation within the short window prior to the Games. The conflict of interest is glaring.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina
Editing by Ed Osmond

 


 

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