KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Thomas Bach used a need for ‘natural justice’ in defending the decision of the IOC’s executive board to spare Russia a blanket ban from the Olympic Games which start in less than a fortnight in Rio de Janeiro.
The German president of the International Olympic Committee also denied that the body was being ‘weak on Russia.’
Bach was speaking at a news conference after the board decided, after an emergency meeting organised out of Lausanne, that individual sports’ international federations should rule on which Russian sportsmen and women should be permitted to compete next month.
He pointed to the scant time remaining before the Games and the need to balance individual and collective responsibility for a decision which “may not please everybody on either side.”
A damning World Anti-Doping Agency report alleging a state-led Russian strategy of doping and cover-up, notably at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, had prompted emergency action from the IOC.
Federation officials had been split over the cautionary message a blanket ban would deliver.
However Bach said: “The first athletes are already in the Olympic Village and we had to draw conclusions from a a report about the system in Russia and in its Moscow laboratory. For the IOC the difficult task was to take decisions about individual athletes and how this would affect each and every one of them.
“In this context we had to balance the collective responsibility as a concept and the individual justice to which every human being and every athlete ie entitled.”
Bach said that the manner in which responsibility for the system was being shared with individual competitors was to present them with a “high bar” of proving their clean-record suitability to go to Rio.
The lawyer leader of the IOC added: “We have set the bar to the limit by establishing a number of strict criteria which every Russian athlete will have to fulfil if he or she wants to participate in Rio. I think we have balanced the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice.”
He thought that the IOC decision was adequate in promoting an anti-doping message to and he defended the process by which individual federations would have to vet Russian competitors via a recommendation to the IOC and an independent arbitrator from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Bach said: “First the the message is very clear that, given the serious allegations they have to assume a collective responsibility for such a system; on the other hand it is also a message of encouragement for the clean Russian athletes that they have the chance to show they are clean and participate in the Games and then serve as positive role models for the fight against doping in Russia.
“I hope this sends a positive message to future generations of Russian athletes.”
Bach pointed out that a special disciplinary system had been created to take “sanctions for the organisations and people behind such a system” involving the Mosco laboratory and the Russian Sports Ministry.
He added: “This is why we have requested that the World Anti-Doping Agency extends the [investigation] of Professor Richard McLaren because he said he could only partially fulfil his mandate.
“We want to see it fulfilled 100pc and then we will follow up with all of these concerns.”
Bach denied that the IOC was being weak on Russia because “if you read the decision and you can see how high we have set the bar for Russian athletes to participate in the Games.”