IOC actions on Russia defended by president Bach


International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has defended the organisation's handling of the Russia doping scandal ahead of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last week overturned lifetime bans imposed on 28 Russian athletes for doping offences at the previous Games in Sochi and will announce on Thursday or Friday whether the IOC must invite a further 47 individuals who have lodged appeals to participate in South Korea. The opening ceremony will take place on Friday.

The IOC suspended Russia from the Winter Olympics in December following allegations of state-sponsored doping, though a contingent of competitors have been granted permission to compete under a neutral flag.

Amid a chaotic build-up to the Games, Bach insisted the IOC had done all it could to manage the situation as effectively as possible.

He said: "The timing there was not in our hands. Studies had to be done, evidence had to be provided, fair hearings for the Russian athletes had to be offered.

"Hopefully soon we can have a strengthened system in anti-doping, as far as the IOC and international federations are concerned [so] we have a strengthened system which allows us to protect our values."

Bach added that Russian athletes will not be allowed to celebrate any potential triumphs with the flag of their nation.

"The regulations are very clear that this is not allowed. The regulations are published, they're even translated in Russian," said the IOC chief.

"The Olympic athletes from Russia have signed a declaration of acceptance of these regulations and all this will be monitored by the implementation group."