Jul 26, 2016

    Sports leaders divided as Russia escapes blanket ban


    THE International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Games over state-run doping left international sports leaders divided yesterday, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.

    Seeking to justify Sunday's decision, IOC president Thomas Bach said an outright ban would trample the rights of clean Russian athletes who are hoping to compete at the upcoming Games.

    Individual sports federations will have primary responsibility for determining every Russian athlete's eligibility for Rio, the IOC executive said.

    The World Anti-Doping Agency last week called for Russia to be banned after detailing how the Sports Ministry had directed a massive cheating programme with help from the state intelligence agency.

    United States anti-doping chief Travis Tygart - one of many who urged a total ban against Russia - accused IOC of creating "a confusing mess" with its decision.

    Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel also criticised IOC's decision to "pass the hot potato to international federations".

    Wada officials said they were "disappointed" with IOC's decision, which director general Olivier Niggli said would "inevitably lead to a lack of harmonisation, potential challenges and lesser protection for clean athletes".

    The cheating affected 30 sports, including at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and other major events, Wada said, in revelations that widened the worst drug scandal in Olympic history.

    Russia's entire track and field squad has already been barred from Rio following a similar Wada report on "state-supported" doping in that sport.

    An IOC executive implemented a rigorous set of criteria for each Russian Olympic hopeful.

    First, athletes must be individually cleared by their respective sports federation and there should be no presumption of innocence.

    An expert from the Court of Arbitration for Sport must also approve each individual decision.

    Additionally, any athlete who has previously tested positive for doping is ineligible, even if he or she has already served a suspension.