Rio 2016: IOC to have final say on Russia competitors

Three-person panel will make the final ruling on which athletes can compete at the Rio Games, IOC says.

The IAAF says state-sponsored cheating in Russia goes back to the 2008 Olympics [Reuters]
The IAAF says state-sponsored cheating in Russia goes back to the 2008 Olympics [Reuters]

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says a three-person panel will have the final say on which Russian athletes are allowed to compete at the Olympic Games after a doping scandal.

The special panel will review every athlete cleared to compete but will not reopen the cases of those who have been barred, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said late on Saturday.

So far, more than 250 Russian athletes have been cleared to compete.

“This review board panel will look at every single decision, every single athlete, to make sure the IOC is happy with the decision that’s been taken,” Adams said. “We want to make it absolutely clear that we are the ones making the final call.”

What’s behind the IOC’s decision on Russia?

The panel will have to make its ruling before the opening ceremony, which is just five days away.

The panel will be made up of executive board members: Turkey’s Ugur Erdener, chairman of the IOC medical commission; Germany’s Claudia Bokel, head of the athletes’ commission; and Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, a vice president of the modern pentathlon federation.

“It’s very important that the IOC makes the final decision based on independent advice,” Adams said. 

Saturday’s meeting came less than a week after the IOC board decided not to ban Russia’s entire team from the games after accusations of state-sponsored doping, rejecting calls by more than a dozen anti-doping agencies for a complete ban on Russia.

‘Extremely shocking’

The IOC left it to individual sports federations to vet which athletes could compete or not, saying it would deny entry to those who did not meet the requirements set out by the federations.

Russians banned so far include the 67 track and field athletes barred as a whole by the IAAF, and more than 30 others rejected under new IOC eligibility criteria. Russia’s eight-member weightlifting team was kicked out of the games on Friday for what the international federation called “extremely shocking” doping results that brought the sport into “disrepute”.

The IOC has been roundly criticised by anti-doping bodies, athletes’ groups and Western media for not imposing a total ban on Russia.

Pressure for the full sanction followed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren that accused Russia’s sports ministry of overseeing a vast doping conspiracy involving the country’s summer and winter sports athletes.

In July, WADA called for Russia to be banned from the Olympics and asked global sports governing bodies to bar Russia until “culture change” is achieved.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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