SPEAKING OUT: Rio Olympics chef de mission Kitty Chiller.
SPEAKING OUT: Rio Olympics chef de mission Kitty Chiller. JULIAN SMITH

IOC opts out of banning Russians but will set strict rules

OLYMPICS: Russians hoping to compete in next month’s Rio Olympics have been set a high bar by the International Olympic Committee, which has fallen short of imposing a complete ban on the country’s participation.

While the IAAF’s ban on Russia’s 67-member athletics team remains – over a state-backed system of doping – the IOC has opted to leave decisions on individuals’ participation to the relevant sporting federations.

Australian team chef de mission Kitty Chiller defended the IOC’s move and said no Russian athlete who had been sanctioned for a doping offence could compete in Rio.

“The IOC has set down a very strict criteria and the Russians still need to clear the high hurdles to be able to participate in Rio,” she said yesterday in Rio.

“Any Russian athlete who is accepted by the IOC as a Games competitor will be the subject of rigorous additional out-of-competition testing.

“In a nutshell, the presumption of innocence cannot be applied to them – there is insufficient time for hearings with the Games so close. They have to prove they deserve to be at the Games.

“The IFs (international federations) will determine the eligible Russian athletes only after the WADA (anti-doping) code has been applied.

“A test done in Russia that says an athlete is ‘clean’ is not sufficient to gain entry to the Games.

“The IFs need to rely on international tests – in other words, tests done outside Russia.”

Chiller said no one implicated in the Russian doping program – be they athletes or officials of national sporting federations – could apply for entry to the Rio Games.

IOC president Thomas Bach acknowledged the doping scandal as the worst in Olympic history, but defended the decision by the world governing body’s 15-member executive board not to completely ban Russia from the Games.

“We have set the bar to the limit,” he said.

IOC vice-president John Coates – the president of the Australian Olympic Committee and chairman of the IOC’s Legal Affairs Commission – advised the IOC on legal aspects of the decision.

“We were mindful of the need for justice for clean athletes,” he said.

“We did not want to penalise athletes who are clean with a collective ban and therefore keeping them out of the Games.

“The executive board was satisfied with the strict criteria that has been applied and that all Russian athletes must fulfil if they want to compete in Rio.”

Russia has named a team of 387 competitors.

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