IOC rule against Olympic blanket ban for Russia

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By Joseph Allen  with reuters
IOC rule against Olympic blanket ban for Russia

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday it will not impose a blanket ban on Russia for next month’s Rio Olympics.

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) had called for a complete ban on Russian competitors for Rio following the results of an independent report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren into allegations of state-sponsored doping in the country.

The McLaren report described extensive doping and cover-ups from 2011 to 2015, which covered the 2012 London Olympics and particularly the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The IOC’s 15-member executive board has decided t leave the responsibility for allowing Russian competitors to take part in the Rio Games in the hands of the international federations.

The IOC has, however, ordered the immediate retesting of all Russian athletes that took part in the Sochi Games and has instructed all international winter sports federations to stop preparations for major events in Russia, including the planned 2019 European Games.

Members of the Russian Olympic Committee implicated in the report would not be accredited for Rio while proceedings against them will be opened by the IOC starting Monday.

McLaren, meanwhile, has been given the green light by the IOC to continue and finalise his work.

Any Russia athletes wanting to compete in Rio will now have to meet strict criteria laid down by the IOC while any athlete that have previously been banned for doping – no matter whether they have served their suspension – will not be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games which start on August 5.

That means Yulia Stepanova, a middle distance runner, former drugs cheat and the whistle blower whose evidence led to the doping scandal, will not be eligible to compete.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Sunday he was grateful to the International Olympic Committee for not imposing a blanket ban and added that he hoped the majority of international sports federations would support the rights of Russians hoping to compete in Rio.