Russia avoid blanket ban for Rio 2016


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has opted against imposing a blanket ban from Rio 2016 on Russia, instead choosing to allow the fate of the country's competitors to be decided by the international federations for each sport.

Calls for a suspension of all Russians had grown following the publication on Monday of a damning report by Professor Richard McLaren - independently produced at the request of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) - that found protection of doped athletes in the country had been "directed [and] controlled" at state level.

McLaren's report prompted WADA to recommend that both the IOC and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decline Russian entries for Rio 2016.

However, the IOC executive board confirmed on Sunday - less than two weeks before the start of the Olympics - that a full ban would not be enforced, instead laying down strict criteria that must be met by any Russian seeking to compete in Rio.

A statement read: "On the basis of the findings of the IP [McLaren] 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."

International federations will now be tasked with carrying 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 IOC executive board also ruled: "Nobody implicated [in the McLaren report], be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games."

In addition, Russia will not be allowed to enter any athlete who has been banned for doping, regardless of whether they have served the sanction.

Russian track and field athletes are already the subject of a suspension from the IAAF, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] having this week rejected an appeal against that ban on behalf of 68 affected individuals.

The IOC also confirmed on Sunday that whistle-blower Yuliya Stepanova will not be allowed to enter the Olympics due to her past doping sanctions. The IAAF had approved a request for Stepanova to compete in Rio as a 'neutral athlete'.