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IOC statement on participation of Russian athletes in Rio Olympics

A man uses his tablet computer as he sits near Olympic rings placed in the courtyard of the Russian Olympic Committee headquarters in Moscow, Russia, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
A man uses his tablet computer as he sits near Olympic rings placed in the courtyard of the Russian Olympic Committee headquarters in Moscow, Russia, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

REUTERS - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday that it would not impose a blanket ban on Russia for next month's Rio Games over the nation's doping record.

Here is the IOC statement.

The IOC Executive Board (EB) has today further studied the question of the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. In its deliberations, the IOC EB was guided by a fundamental rule of the Olympic Charter to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sport.

The study included the discussion of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Independent Person (IP) Report by Prof. Richard McLaren; the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on 21 July 2016 concerning the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF); as well as the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code.

Given the urgency of the situation, with the Olympic Games Rio 2016 starting in 12 days, and the athletes’ entry process already underway, the IOC EB had to take a preliminary decision with regard to the participation of Russian athletes in Rio de Janeiro. Prof. McLaren states in his report that it “fulfils partially the mandate of the Independent Person”. This is why the IOC supports his request to continue and finalise his work. On the other hand, this situation leads to an urgency for the IOC which does not allow it sufficient time for hearings for affected athletes, officials and organisations.

The IOC EB has given the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) the opportunity to present the case of the Russian athletes and the ROC. This was done by Mr Alexander Zhukov, ROC President, at the beginning of the EB telephone conference, which he left immediately following his presentation.

During his presentation, Mr. Zhukov explained that the Russian Federation and the ROC guarantee full cooperation with all international organisations to shed light on the issue in every respect. He also guaranteed that the ROC commits to a complete and comprehensive restructuring of the Russian anti-doping system. In this context, he stressed that the ROC is committed to clean sport and would work towards guaranteeing clean sport in Russia.

He further stated that all Russian athletes selected for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 have been tested over the last six months by foreign anti-doping agencies. Samples were taken by foreign doping control officers and the samples analysed in foreign laboratories. Russian athletes who participated in different competitions in all sports have submitted more than 3,000 doping samples. The vast majority of the results were negative.

The IOC EB discussed the status of the ROC. In this respect, it took note of the fact that the IP Report made no findings against the ROC as an institution.

The IOC EB took note of a letter dated 23 July 2016 from the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). In this letter the ISSF confirms having received from WADA information about the three “disappearing samples” concerning shooting. The ISSF states that these three samples had been entered, at the time they were reported, into WADA’s ADAMS Results Management System as positives, and all the result management procedures have already been followed.

On the basis of the Findings of the IP Report, all Russian athletes seeking entry to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 are considered to be affected by a system subverting and manipulating the anti-doping system. The IP Report indicates that, due to “the highly compressed timeline”, the IP has “only skimmed the surface of the extensive data available”. The IOC EB therefore came to the conclusion that this view cannot be restricted only to athletes from the 20 Olympic summer sports mentioned in the IP Report.

Under these exceptional circumstances, 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. On the other hand, according to the rules of natural justice, individual justice, to which every human being is entitled, has to be applied. This means that each affected athlete must be given the opportunity to rebut the applicability of collective responsibility in his or her individual case.

After deliberating, the IOC EB decided:

1. The IOC will not accept any entry of any Russian athlete in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 unless such athlete can meet the conditions set out below.

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:

3. The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction.

4. The IOC will accept an entry by the ROC only if the athlete’s IF is satisfied that the evidence provided meets conditions 2 and 3 above and if it is upheld by an expert from the CAS list of arbitrators appointed by an ICAS Member, independent from any sports organisation involved in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

5. The entry of any Russian athlete ultimately accepted by the IOC will be subject to a rigorous additional out-of-competition testing programme in coordination with the relevant IF and WADA. Any non-availability for this programme will lead to the immediate withdrawal of the accreditation by the IOC.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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