The International Olympic Committee have today announced that they will not be issuing a blanket ban on Russian athletes from competing at the Rio Olympics. Following this week's revelations that Russia had orchestrated a state-wide doping programme for the Sochi Winter Olympics. It had been expected that the publication of the McLaren report proving the allegations would lead to a blanket ban for all Russian athletes from the Games.
That has not proved to be the case, as the IOC today confirmed that, rather than make the call themselves, they would instead leave the decision to up to individual sports' governing bodies to decide if Russian competitors are clean and should be allowed to take part. This was confirmed in an IOC statement, in which they explained that they reached the decision having been guided by "a fundamental rule of the Olympic Charter to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sport".
Russian athletes will only be allowed compete at the Games if they meet the following requirements. Here are the requirements as set out on the IOC website. (IFs stands for International Federations).
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:
• The IFs*, when establishing their pool of eligible Russian athletes, to apply the World Anti-Doping Code and other principles agreed by the Olympic Summit (21 June 2016).
• The absence of a positive national anti-doping test cannot be considered sufficient by the IFs.
• The IFs should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.
• The IFs to examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated. Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.
• The IFs will also have to apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs.
While the IOC are, admittedly in a difficult quandary of trying to retain the entire selling point of the Olympics (that they are all inclusive) whilst trying to protect the integrity of sport. Their failure to come down hardline on the Russian system, however, does open the IOC to charges of being soft on the issue, and the fudging of the issue by passing it over to individual federations just twelve days before the competition begins is a logisitcal nightmare an an extremely bad look for the IOC.
The reaction has been sadly, unsurprised:
So the IOC have hospital passed that all to the IF's. "No YOU decide. We don't want to". What a cop out.
— Matthew Pinsent (@matthewcpinsent) July 24, 2016
#IOC have just shown how useless they are - total cop out not to ban #Russia. It's a sad world when being able to lie & cheat isn't punished
— Mark Williams-Thomas (@mwilliamsthomas) July 24, 2016
A massive bottle-job from the IOC.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) July 24, 2016
Thomas Bach and the IOC are a disgrace. Clean sport means very little to them.
— Shane Stokes (@SSbike) July 24, 2016
If you can't be banned for state sponsored programme of cheating and blatant disregard for sport, what can you be banned for? Disgrace #IOC
— Duncan Wright (@dwright75) July 24, 2016
Arguably the worst part of the entire saga is the IOC's treatment of whistleblower Yulia Stepanova has been denied the opportunity to compete under a neutral flag. This is IOC addressed her suspension, and are astonishingly inviting her and her husband to Rio as "official guests".
The full IOC contortion on the status of Ms Stepanova.
Throw her under the bus. Thanks for your help. Not. pic.twitter.com/AnEkdCfDvT
— 💉 Richard Ings : 🇷🇺 stop attacking 🇺🇦 (@ringsau) July 24, 2016
Travis Tygart, the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency has slammed the decision, calling the decision to ban Ms Stepanova "incomprehensible".
Full statement from USADA, CEO, Travis T. Tygart on today's IOC decision: pic.twitter.com/ANvBWOoyPP
— USADA (@usantidoping) July 24, 2016
While the IOC will hide behind some supposed charter or value system, this is a massive cop-out and fudging of the issue by the IOC, and a further blow for anyone hoping to believe in the Olympic Games.