LAUSANNE: Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has promised to enact “the toughest sanctions available” in the wake of the latest World Anti-Doping Agency investigation into state-sponsored doping and its cover-up in Russia writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A report from Canadian Professor Richard McLaren pulled no punches in accusing the Russian Sports Ministry of overseeing the operation of a doping cover-up system involving the Moscow anti-doping laboratory and the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

A statement from the IOC said it will “carefully study the complex and detailed allegations, in particular with regard to the Russian Ministry of Sport.”

Bach said: “The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games. Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated.”

The IOC’s executive board will stage a tele-conference tomorrow to decide on an initial response which “may include provisional measures and sanctions with regard to the Olympic Games Rio 2016.”

This is by far the most serious crisis to confront Bach since he was voted in as IOC president in succession to retiring Jacques Rogge in 2013. Bach has made no secret of his wish to hold the Olympic family together and keep Russia on board, one way or another.

His ultimate nightmare scenario is that, if Russian track and field athletes are definitively banned from Rio, the country will withdraw its entire team and blame western political interests for infecting the sporting arena . . . a throwback to the tit-for-tat boycotts of the 1980s.