KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Thomas Bach and his executive board of the International Olympic Committee has postponed any decision on what to do with Russia and the Rio Games pending legal advice.
Demands for the entire Russian team to be banned from the 2016 Olympics have followed the revelations in a report from Canadian professor Richard McLaren alleged a state-organised doping and cover-up strategy operating across all major sports between 2011 and 2015.
Indeed – in a move which may have backfired in political terms – demands for a blanket ban were issued at the weekend by anti-doping offiicials in the United States and Canada. However this has been resisted by a number of major Olympic sports’ international federations.
The premature north American demand for a blanket ban was seen in Moscow as having supported a claim by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country was the victim of a geopolitical plot which risked a 1980s-style Olympic schism.
This morning, while 68 Russian track and field athletes were appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the country’s international suspension by world athletics, Bach summoned a tele-conference of his IOC executive board.
Legal logic dictated the impossibility of a major decision ahead of the CAS ruling, which is expected on Thursday.
However the IOC exbo agreed to “carefully evaluate” its legal options surrounding a blanket ban of Russian athletes for the 2016 Olympic Games as well as withdrawing backing for any sports event or meeting in the country under additional provisional measures.
Bach and Co also agreed to launch disciplinary action against officials within the Russian Ministry of Sports and other persons mentioned in the in the McLaren Report because of violations of the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code.
The IOC said that given the “urgency” of the matter it has already taken seven provisional measures. These are headlined by the IOC stating it will not organise or give patronage to any sports event or meeting in Russia.
This includes plans for the 2019 European Games though it is not clear whether this has any more than a cursory effect on the football World Cup in Russia in 2018.
In January, the European Olympic Committees (EOC) said Russia remained its preferred destination for the 2019 European Games, in spite of the doping scandal affecting athletics in the country. The cities of Sochi and Kazan had been pencilled in as co-hosts of the second edition of the Games. Russia stepped in after Holland pulled out of staging the event, citing financial concerns.
The IOC also said it will not grant any accreditation to any official of the Russian Ministry of Sport or any person implicated in the McLaren report for Rio 2016.
It will initiate reanalysis, including forensic analysis, and a full inquiry into all Russian athletes who participated at Sochi 2014, as well as their coaches, officials and support staff. However, since any positive samples were cleansed at the time according to McLaren, it is not clear whether this will serve any effective purpose.
However a specific disciplinary commission for the purpose has been established under the chairmanship of Denis Oswald.
The IOC has asked all international federations for a full inquiry and, in case of implication in infringements of the World Anti-Doping Code, sanctions against Russian national federations. These provisional measures apply until December 31 and will then be reviewed by an IOC board meeting.
WADA has also been asked to extend the mandate of McLaren to communicate the names of Russian athletes implicated in the ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology’ and the alleged manipulation of the doping tests performed by the Sochi laboratory and, where appropriate, to the IOC, in order to allow them to take “swift action”.