Russia sanctions from IOC 'not all that harsh'

The IOC's sanctions on Russia after the existence of a state-sponsored doping regime was confirmed are not "all that harsh", according to Canadian law professor Richard McLaren.

McLaren headed up the independent commission, established by the World Anti-Doping Agency, that last year uncovered the extent of performance-enhancing drug use by a number of Russian athletes at the 2012 Olympics and Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

After a report from the Schmid Commission backed up the McLaren Report's findings this week, the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, denying the nation any representatives at Pyeongchang 2018.

Russian athletes will still be able to compete under the Olympic flag if they meet "strict conditions", which McLaren thinks weakens the severity of the punishment meted out.

"This idea that Russia's been banned is completely wrong," McLaren told ESPN. "What they've done in suspending the Russian Olympic Committee is, they've taken over the [athlete] nomination process.

"That's a very different process than a ban of Russians from competing in the Games. Certain Russian athletes will compete with the approval of the IOC, and the IOC's got control over who's going to be approved.

"It lacks a proper assessment. It smacks of being too much 'behind closed doors'. But we will have to learn what the details of the process are before passing final judgment.

"I think you'll see the vast majority of [Russian athletes] there. That'll be a test of how strong these criteria are that they're going to use to decide who goes and doesn't go.

"I think the message they're trying to send is that they've held Russia accountable for its actions, and are acting in a significant-sanction, harsh way. Now I'm beginning to think maybe it isn't all that harsh."

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