IOC delays decision on Russia Olympic ban for doping

IOC delays decision on Russia Olympic ban for doping
Little to cheer about as Russia faces a complete ban from the Summer Games in Brazil.
By bne IntelliNews July 19, 2016

Russia's imperilled participation in the Rio Games won a reprieve on July 19 as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) postponed a decision on whether to ban the country's entire Olympic team over charges of state-directed doping.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) a day earlier issued a damning report accusing officials from Russia's sporting authorities and the FSB intelligence service of coordinated efforts to manage and conceal the use of banned drugs by athletes in a wide range of sports and during previous Olympic Games.

The IOC's executive board had been expected to make a decision on whether to ban all Russian athletes from the Summer Games, but then requested more time to "explore their legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes...versus the right to individual justice", news reports said.

It was not immediately clear how long the IOC would continue its deliberations, but it cannot make its decision until the Court of Arbitration of Sport, where Russian track and field athletes have contested their earlier expulsion from the Olympics, announced its own ruling, a statement said. Meanwhile, the IOC banned Russian officials whose names appeared in the Wada report from travelling to the Rio Olympics.

Wada on July 18 called for a ban on Russian athletes participating in all international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro which begin in August, the agency's spokesman Ben Nichols wrote on his Twitter page on July 18.

"WADA calls on Sport Movement to deny Russian athletes participation at international competitions including Rio until 'culture change' achieved," Nichols wrote amid snowballing charges about what has been branded "state sponsored" doping among Russian athletes.

"McLaren investigation into doping in Russia reveals most deliberate and disturbing abuse of power ever seen in sport," Nichols wrote after the release of the findings of a new international probe. "Doping scheme across 30 sports mean there can no longer be presumption of innocence."

The report was presented by Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor and a chairman of the Wada Commission. The investigation is based on a testimony from the former head of Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov.

In an interview with the New York Times in May, Rodchenkov said an unnamed official from the Sports Ministry sent him lists of Russian athletes whose doping samples he had to swap during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said "the officials named in the commission report as direct executors will be suspended from office until the investigation is complete", the Kremlin press service said on July 18.

"In order to make a final decision on the responsibility of the relevant officials, we are asking the Wada commission to provide more complete, objective, evidence-based information to account for it in the investigation of the Russian law enforcement and investigative agencies," Putin said.

He noted that the accusations against the Russian athletes are built on the testimony of a man "with a scandalous reputation", referring to Rodchenkov.

Earlier, Russian track and field athletes were banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations from participating in the Rio Games due to doping scandals. A total of 326 athletes later received permission to compete individually in the Games rather than as Russian national team members.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko is to keep his post despite the Wada findings, because he is not directly mentioned in the Wada report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on July 19.

However, Mutko's deputy, Yury Nagornykh, was identified as organising the collection of clean urine samples to replace tainted samples at anti-doping laboratories. He was suspended after the report was released.

McLaren, told a press briefing the previous day that it was "inconceivable" that Mutko was not aware of the doping programme.