RIO DE JANEIRO: Defiant Thomas Bach has insisted that the IOC has nothing for which to apologise concerning the eve-of-event confusion over which Russians may compete in the Olympics that open in Rio on Friday writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Instead the president of the International Olympic Committee, addressing a news conference in Rio, largely blamed initial inaction by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Most of the summer Olympics federations have taken their own decisions concerning Russians for Rio but these have yet to be vetted by a three-strong panel from the Court of Arbitration for Sport and then an IOC panel, with the Opening Ceremony only five days distant.
Bach was speaking after the latest meeting of the IOC executive board which had decided last weekend to admit Russians with a proven clean anti-doping record.
He said: “The IOC is not responsible for the timing of the McLaren Report [into Russian doping]; the IOC is not responsible for the fact that information offered to the World Anti-Doping Agency a couple of years ago has not been followed up; the IOC is not responsible for accreditation or supervision of the anti-doping lababoraties.
No IOC responsibility
“So, therefore, the IOC cannot be made responsible either for the timing or for the reasons of these incidences we have to face now and have to address just a couple of days before the Games.”
Bach refuted a suggestion that the chaos, which dominated much of the publicity in the run-up to the Games, would undermine their credibility.
He said: “I don’t think this will be damaging because people will realise we had to take this difficult decision. Imagine, if we had taken another decision [ie, to impose a blanket ban on Russia] what juridical and legal limbo this would mean.
“I trust people realise the difficulties we are in, they realise that it was not an easy decision to take and that we did our best to address this situation in a way which allowed us to protect all clean athletes all over the world.”
Bach denied suggestions that he had been in close contact with Russian leaders, either within sport or all the way up to President Vladimir Putin. He also said that most of the world of sport approved of the board’s decision to devolve decisions on Russian Games entries to the various international sports federations.
He said: “There is really broad support across the world for this approach of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee. You cannot deprive any human being – and not athletes for whom we are responsible – of the opportunity to prove his or her innocence.”
Bach repeated his claim that the executive board had voted unanimously in favour of the devolution of the decisions. In fact, vice-president Sir Craig Reedie was recused because of conflict of interest since he is president of WADA while Claudio Bokel, representing the athletes’ commission on board, abstained.
Bokel will be one of the three members of the IOC panel which will consider the assessment of Russian entries by CAS. The others are Ugur Erdener, head of the Turkish NOC and the IOC medical commission, along with Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch, a vice-president of the modern pentathlon federation (UIPM).
On other issues, Bach said preparations for Games “are coming together” and he had “full confidence” in the security operation despite several reported incidents in and around Rio.