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Russia will not face a blanket ban at the Rio Olympics

Russia will not face a blanket ban at the Rio Olympics


Athletes will face stringent criteria to compete in Brazil

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Today, the International Olympic Committee said individual sports federations will be responsible for barring Russian athletes from this summer's games in Rio. The ruling comes just 12 days before the start of the games, and the call is now left to the 28 federations that oversee individual sports at the Olympics.

The decision follows a report released earlier this week that confirmed a state-supported Russian doping program. While the IOC Executive Board has deferred the decision to the individual federations, they have taken a firm stance on the participation of Russian athletes. Stating that each athlete bears some collective responsibility for their country's actions, the board ruled that the nation's athletes will be barred from each of the 28 sports, unless certain criteria are met:

  • The International federations must apply the World Anti-Doping code and its principles to all eligible Russian athletes.
  • Russian athletes must have a negative doping test: the mere absence of a positive test is not sufficient.
  • The record of each Russian athlete must be examined individually to determine the reliability of their testing history.
  • All Russian athletes must be checked against the Independent Person (IP) Report released by the World Anti-Doping Organization" on Monday. Any athletes who are implicated will be barred."
  • International Federations will also apply their rules when it comes to sanctioning National Federations.

The IOC was under pressure from over a dozen national anti-doping organizations to issue a blanket ban on Russian athletes, The New York Times reported. And on July 22nd, Russia was banned from competing in the Paralympics after 35 doping violations were found among Russian Paralympians; these violations had been hidden by the Russian sports ministry, the Times reported.

In its statement, the IOC noted that the IP Report didn't point directly at the Russian Olympics Committee as an institution, but made the determination that all Russian athletes looking to attend the games were "considered to be affected by a system subverting and manipulating the anti-doping system." Because the IP report hadn't comprehensively examined the data due to the amount of time available to its authors, the IOC decided that its results should not be restricted to the 20 sports highlighted in the findings.

"Under these exceptional circumstances," the IOC said in the statement, "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."

The IP report released by WADA on Monday confirmed previous allegations Russia was running an organized doping regime. An investigation, conducted by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, found that Russia had launched the scheme as early as 2011, following the country's poor performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The report implicated Russia's anti-doping organization, ministry of sport, and secret service, and detailed how Russia manipulated its athlete's urine samples across "virtually all sports."

The IOC had previously said it would factor a decision made by the Court of Arbitration of Sports on Thursday into its decision. The court, which is the highest arbitrator of international sports issues, did not grant appeals to 68 Russian track and field athletes who had been banned earlier this year by the sport's international federation from competing in this summer's games.

The McLaren report was the latest investigation into the doping practices of Russian athletes. WADA released its first statistics on doping violations in June 2015, which showed Russia had 225 doping violations in 2013, the most out of any country. Track and field had the highest number of violations, and a report WADA published in November was focused on doping in that sport. It recommended the International Association of Athletics Federations (which oversees track and field) ban Russia from its events. The federation issued a suspension four days later, and upheld its decision last month after Russia failed to meet the strict criteria for the ban to be lifted.