While the International Olympic Committee decided Tuesday to ban from the Rio Games all Russian Sports Ministry officials and other administrators implicated in allegations of a state-run doping program, it delayed a ruling on whether to take the ...
Stephen Wilson, Associated Press
8:43 p.m. EDT July 19, 2016London â€” â€“ With just over two weeks until the opening ceremony, Russia still doesnâ€™t know whether its athletes â€” all or even some â€” will be competing in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It may all come down to the lawyers.While the International Olympic Committee decided Tuesday to ban from the Rio Games all Russian Sports Ministry officials and other administrators implicated in allegations of a state-run doping program, it delayed a ruling on whether to take the unprecedented step of barring the entire Russian Olympic team.The IOC said it â€œwill explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the rights to individual justice.â€The IOC has also said it could let individual international sports federations decide on whether to ban Russians from their events in Rio, just as the IAAF has done by ruling track and field athletes from the games. The 28 international federations that govern the individual sports at the summer games have made clear that they do not support a blanket ban.The IOCâ€™s legal options may become clearer after Thursday, when the highest court in sports will rule on an appeal by 68 Russian track and field athletes seeking to overturn their ban from the games.Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva was among those arguing the Russian track and field teamâ€™s case Tuesday in Geneva at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Should the court rule Thursday in their favor, it would seemingly rule out the chance of the IOC imposing a blanket ban.If the court upholds the IAAFâ€™s exclusion of the track athletes, however, that would keep the possibility of a total ban in play. Further appeals are also possible, meaning that the final word on the Russians may go down to the wire before Aug. 5, when the Rio Games open.Still, it will take a major leap for the IOC to impose the ultimate sanction of kicking out Russia entirely. IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly called for a balance between â€œindividual justice and collective punishment.â€No country as a whole has ever been barred from the games for doping, and Russia is a major force in the Olympic movement as well as a sports powerhouse. The last time Russia was missing from the Olympics was when it boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games in retaliation for the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.Russian President Vladimir Putin called the doping allegations â€œa dangerous return to â€¦ letting politics interfere with sport.â€â€œThe Olympic movement, which is a tremendous force for uniting humanity, once again could find itself on the brink of division,â€ he said in a statement after Mondayâ€™s release of the Russian doping report issued by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.The 15-member IOC executive board met by teleconference Tuesday to consider its moves following McLarenâ€™s report.The report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, accused the Russian Sports Ministry, headed by Vitaly Mutko, of overseeing the doping of the countryâ€™s Olympic athletes on a scale larger than previous alleged. It said the ministry had help from Russiaâ€™s intelligence service, the FSB.The investigation uncovered an alleged doping program that ensnared 28 sports, both summer and winter, and ran from 2011 to 2015. It found 312 positive tests that Russiaâ€™s deputy minister of sport directed lab workers not to report to WADA.Mutko on Tuesday denied all wrongdoing and said he expected his subordinates to be cleared. But addressing the ban by the IOC of Russian sports administrators, he said he was ready to accept it because â€œwe have always been guests at the Olympics,â€ and that the important issue was that the Russian Olympic team go to the games.The summer sports federations prefer that doping allegations are handled on an individual basis.The Association of Summer Olympic International Federation asked WADA â€œto immediately provide all the detailed information to the 20 international federations concerned so that they may begin processing the individual cases under their own separate rules and regulations as soon as possible, and in line with the WADA Code and the Olympic Charter.â€â€œIt is important to focus on the need for individual justice in all these cases.â€Rather than applying a total ban, federations could suspend individual Russian sports. That already was the case with the IAAF ban on Russiaâ€™s track athletes from Rio following previous WADA-commissioned reports into Russian doping.The summer associationâ€™s position falls in line with recent comments by Bach, who cited the need for balancing â€œindividual justice and collective punishment.â€ He said last week that, if summer sports were implicated in the McLaren report, the federations would have to decide on the eligibility of Russians â€œon an individual basis.â€While putting off a decision to ban Russia, the executive board announced a series of measures to punish Russian athletes and officials implicated in doping.Among the sanctions, the IOC:â– Said it will not organize â€œor give patronageâ€ to any sports event or meetings in Russia, including plans to hold the European Games in the country in 2019.â– Will launch retesting, including forensic analysis, of doping samples from the Sochi Games. It set up a commission to carry out a â€œfull inquiryâ€ into all of the Russian athletes who competed in Sochi, along with their coaches, officials and support staff.â– Asked WADA to extend McLarenâ€™s mandate to disclose the names of Russian athletes whose positive doping samples were covered up, and whose samples were manipulated in Sochi.â– Called on all international winter sports federations to â€œfreezeâ€ their plans for holding major events in Russia, including world championships and World Cups, and seek alternative venues in other countries.The IOC said the â€œprovisional measuresâ€ would apply until Dec. 31, and be reviewed by the IOC that month.
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