IOC lambasted for refusing to ban Russia

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been widely condemned after they opted not to ban all Russian athletes from taking part in the 2016 Olympic Games. 

There had been calls for Russia to be banned from participating in all events in Rio de Janeiro after it was revealed that the country had been running a state-sponsored doping programme.

With the  Games’ opening ceremony just under two weeks away, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis Tygart, former World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound and United Kingdom sports minister Tracey Crouch have slammed IOC president Thomas Bach.

Tygart believes that the IOC had an opportunity to assert its leadership, but did nothing more than create “a confusing mess”.

“Disappointingly, in response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership,” Tygart told reporters. “The decision regarding Russian participation and the confusing mess left in its wake is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes.”

Pound echoed Tygart’s sentiments, saying that the IOC had “squandered” a “huge opportunity to make a statement”.

Crouch, meanwhile, feels that “the scale of the evidence in the McLaren report arguably pointed to the need for stronger sanctions rather than leaving it to the international federations at this late stage”.

Bach, though, defended the decision the IOC made, saying that banning all Russian athletes wouldn’t be right.

“We have reversed the presumption of innocence for Russian athletes, making them assume collective responsibility,” he said. “But natural justice requires that individuals have the chance to rebut this reversal. So we have set the bar by establishing strict criteria that every Russian will have to fulfil.

“We have balanced the desire for collective responsibility against the right for individual justice.”

Meanwhile, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has expressed his relief that the IOC had decided against banning Russia from competing at the Olympics.

“Today the IOC showed a balanced approach,” he told Sky News. “An objective decision has been made as regards our country – it’s a just and fair decision and we hope every federation will take the same kind of decision.

“Doping is a worldwide evil, not only of Russia. I am sure the national team will show good results at the Olympic Games and we will do everything to support them.”