Russian athletes must be individually evaluated to determine Olympic eligibility - IOC

The International Olympic Committee says Russian athletes will be evaluated individually to determine their eligibility to compete in the Rio Games. A blanket ban was upheld against the country's track and field athletes, but not for the whole team.

IOC president Thomas Bach said during a press conference on Tuesday that the committee has "serious doubts on the presumption of innocence" of athletes from Kenya and Russia.

Bach also said that, for its part, the Russian Olympic Committee has fulfilled all the demands put forward by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the country's athletes to return to competition.

Athletes who are evaluated will have to prove they are clean by means of "international tests, or tests supervised and approved by international authorities..." he said.

He stressed that any "tainted" laboratory tests would not be accepted.

Along with athletes, Bach said that others involved in the doping scandal will also be banned, including coaches, doctors and officials.

Those who are deemed clean will be able to compete under the Russian flag at the Rio Olympics this summer.

The IOC still upheld a previous ruling by the IAAF for a blanket ban on track and field athletes from Russia, noting that the IOC cannot declare athletes technically illegible for the Games.

The IAAF is reportedly standing firm and refusing to allow even “clean” Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics, saying that their issues must be settled in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).  

But with the Rio Games starting on August 5, it’s unclear if the Lausanne court will be able to cope with rulings on so many cases in time.   

Bach also noted the anti-doping system has "some deficiencies."

"We have to make responsibilities clearer...it has to be more transparent. Everybody has to understand better who is doing what and who is responsible for what..."

He added that the summit has called to convene an extraordinary world conference on doping in 2017, where the issue can be addressed in an "open and transparent way." 

Bach rejected media speculation that he had discussed the ban on Russian athletes with Vladimir Putin and that the agenda of the IOC summit had been agreed with the Russian president.

Russia’s presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also stressed that the Kremlin is unaware of any discussions between Putin and Bach.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) first made allegations against Russia in November 2015, accusing the country’s athletics and anti-doping bodies of massively breaching anti-doping rules.

After that the IAAF suspended all Russian track and field athletes from competition and ordered the Russian Athletics Federation and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency [RUSADA] to rectify the violations uncovered during an international probe.

'Russia ready to work'

Following Bach’s press-conference, Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the country is eager to fulfill all the conditions the IOC sets for the participation of "clean" athletes at the 2016 Olympics.

“We are ready for any experiments. We are prepared to be open. We are ready to work,” Mutko said.

“Russia is in a difficult situation now because of the events in athletics. In some sports, dozens of problems accumulated due to the lack of proper management,” he added.

The minister fully backed Bach’s stance that “only ‘clean’ athletes should compete in the Olympics and that they should be protected.”

We must do everything to make cheating impossible for everybody, but in order to do so we must be honest ourselves,” he stressed.

Mutko added that Russia “has always been and will be a partner of the International Olympic Committee.”

'No boycott of Rio Games'

Russia’s Olympic Committee head, Sergey Zhukov, also said that the Russian national team won’t be boycotting the Rio Games in response to the ruling.

However, he stressed Russian side “will look into the possibility of filing a law suit against IAAF.”

“All Russian athletes will compete under the Russian flag,” Zhukov said. He added that the IOC stated that “only the Olympic Committee of Russia can send its applications” for Russian athletes to participate at the Rio Olympics, thus ruling out the possibility for them to compete under the Olympic flag, as was earlier suggested by the IAAF.

The Russian Olympic Committee head also said that “important decisions were made” at the IOC meeting, but stressed that he is not fully satisfied with its results as “the decision of the IAAF is still in force.”

“Russian athletes could appeal this decision in courts,” Zhukov said, adding that “the court is the only way to get to the Olympics” now.

He also said that the IAAF decision mentioned “some mythical Russian athletes, who lived abroad and were not controlled by the Russian anti-doping system,” stating that these athletes could apply to take part in the Olympics.

READ MORE: Russian Olympic Committee head calls for fair IOC ruling on Rio 2016

According to Zhukov, the president of the IAAF failed to give him an answer to the question about who these “mythical” athletes really are.

Shifting responsibility?

Former Olympic long jump champion Tatyana Lebedeva suggested that the IOC and IAAF are simply shifting responsibility for the fate of Russian athletes onto one another.

“[IOC head Thomas] Bach has made it clear that the Olympic competition is held under the auspices of the IOC, therefore it’s the national Olympic committees that form the teams and send them to the Games."

"On the other hand, the IAAF may privately allow the athletes to perform at Olympics. So, there’s a sense of some kind of shifting responsibility on one another. The lawyers must look into this issue from different points to understand question, whom the athletes should sue," Lebedeva told RT.

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