With just over two weeks until the opening ceremony, Russia still doesn’t know whether its athletes — all or even some — will be competing in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It may all come down to the lawyers, an Associated Press report out of London says.
While the IOC decided yesterday to ban from the Rio Games all Russian Sports Ministry officials and other administrators implicated in allegations of a state-run doping program, it delayed a ruling on whether to take the unprecedented step of barring the entire Russian Olympic team.
The International Olympic Committee said it “will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the rights to individual justice.”
The IOC has also said it could let individual international sports federations decide on whether to ban Russians from their events in Rio, just as the IAAF has done by ruling track and field athletes from the games. The 28 international federations that govern the individual sports at the summer games have made clear that they do not support a blanket ban,
The IOC’s legal options may become clearer after tomorrow Thursday though, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport , CAS, rule on an appeal by 68 Russian track and field athletes seeking to overturn their ban from the games.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the doping allegations “a dangerous return to … letting politics interfere with sport.”
“The Olympic movement, which is a tremendous force for uniting humanity, once again could find itself on the brink of division,” he said in a statement Monday after the release of the report into Russian doping issued by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.
The report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, accused the Russian Sports Ministry, headed by Vitaly Mutko, of overseeing the doping of the country’s Olympic athletes on a scale larger than previous alleged. It said the ministry had help from Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB.
The investigation uncovered an alleged doping program that ensnared 28 sports, both summer and winter, and ran from 2011 to 2015. It found 312 positive tests that Russia’s deputy minister of sport directed lab workers not to report to WADA.
Mutko on Tuesday denied all wrongdoing and said he expected his subordinates to be cleared. But addressing the ban by the IOC of Russian sports administrators, he said he was ready to accept it because “we have always been guests at the Olympics,” and that the important issue was that the Russian Olympic team go to the games.
Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva was among those arguing the Russian track and field team’s case Tuesday in Geneva at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.