IOC clears 271 Russian athletes for Rio Games

The IOC has announced that 271 Russian athletes will participate at the Rio Games following a final review by a three-member executive board. The head of Russia’s Olympic Committee previously told reporters that the “majority” of Russian teams would participate in full.

“271 athletes will form the team entered by the Russian National Olympic Committee (ROC) from the original entry list of 389 athletes,” the IOC announced on its website, less than 24 hours before the opening ceremony of the games.

The IOC accepted only those athletes who met the entire set of “very strict criteria” outlined in the July 24, 2016 Executive Board decision, including the controversial “presumption of guilt” clause dismissed by the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

After rejecting calls to ban the entire Russian team from participation, the committee set up a panel to examine each athlete individually, based on information provided by their corresponding international sports federations as well as the position of independent arbitrator CAS.

“I want to announce that the majority of our teams will participate at the Olympics in full,” the head of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Aleksandr Zhukov told reporters earlier on Thursday. However, the Russian track and field team will be completely banned from the Olympic Games, as the International Athletics Federation had issued a blanket ban on all Russians, except for those who “lived and trained abroad” over the past three years.

READ MORE: WADA ‘sexed up’ anti-Russia case, implicated clean athletes – Australian media, citing officials

The author of the report, which triggered the final-attempt avalanche of calls to ban the entire Russian team from the Olympics, accused the IOC of misrepresenting, spinning and ignoring the “contents” of his findings. Professor Richard McLaren told the Guardian his report had never been designed to prove individual doping cases or provide evidence, but rather to expose the alleged state-run doping scheme “beyond reasonable doubt.”

“I don’t want to get into a slanging match with the IOC about the way they’ve handled it. I was asked to write a report to determine the facts. I did that,” McLaren told the Guardian, claiming that he has “not turned it [evidence] over to anyone” because he has an “ongoing investigation to complete.”

“I have the evidence, I have it secured. I have the evidence backed up by forensic analysis of databases, sample bottles, I have laboratory evidence of some of those samples. It’s true I haven’t revealed,” McLaren added. “Nothing in there is an allegation. I wouldn’t have put it in if it didn’t meet that standard.”

With the McLaren report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA appears to have “fallen down on its duty,” believes Professor of Sociology at Aston University Ellis Cashmore.

“Its duty of course is to catch cheating athletes, to catch athletes who take dope,” professor Cashmore told RT. “It has relied on the words of a whistleblower, in other words its informant, and its investigation really proceeded from the words of an informant, not from a dope test.”

“I would not be surprised that of after the games there would be a period of reflection and people wonder whether WADA is fulfilling its purpose and come to the conclusion that maybe it should be disbanded,” Cashmore added.

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