WADA disappointed, others disgusted by IOC ruling on Russia

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) late Sunday voiced disappointment that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stopped short of imposing a blanket ban on Russian athletes for the upcoming Rio Games.

National anti-doping entities, athletes and sports officials were also critical, and many media outlets outside Russia also slammed the IOC for its stance.

Many wondered how the international federations, who now are to decide on the eligibility of Russians, can deal with the delicate matter with less than a fortnight left until the August 5 opening ceremony.

WADA had recommended a blanket ban after a report from its investigator Richard McLaren published a week ago exposed widespread and state-sponsored doping in Russian sport.

But the IOC on Sunday decided to allow Russian athletes to the August 5-21 Games, if they were approved by their respective federations under strict criteria. Only Russia's athletics team is banned via a ruling of the governing body IAAF.

“WADA is disappointed that the IOC did not heed WADA’s Executive Committee recommendations that were based on the outcomes of the McLaren investigation and would have ensured a straight-forward, strong and harmonized approach,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.

WADA director general Olivier Niggli added: “While WADA fully respects the IOC’s autonomy to make decisions under the Olympic Charter, the approach taken and the criteria set forward will inevitably lead to a lack of harmonization, potential challenges and lesser protection for clean athletes.”

IOC president Thomas Bach argued the IOC had to balance "the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete."

But British long jump world and Olympic champion Greg Rutherford dismissed the IOC ruling as "a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides.

"We know the risks of ‘collective justice’, but we also know the risk of not punishing a culture of doping that comes from the very top. I would say that the latter is a much greater threat to sport,” he told British paper The Guardian.

Rutherford was also critical of the IOC decision to bar all Russian athletes with a doping past from the Games while allowing athletes from other countries with the same record in.

"If you’re going to make that move, make it with some conviction and reapply it across the board, or don’t make it at all," Rutherford said.

Geopolitics and the powerful presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is friends with Bach, were also said to have played a role in the IOC decision.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) said the IOC "doesn't want to compromise Vladimir Putin," the country's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the IOC "betrayed" its on values, and Spain's El Mundo said the IOC decided to "wash its hands in innocence."

A Guardian editorial was titled "IOC chooses obfuscation and chaos on Russia competing at Olympics." German anti-doping expert Fritz Soergl spoke of "a disgusting put-up job" and concluded: "The IOC, and especially president Bach, failed completely."

The New York Times said: "Yet again, when faced with evidence of a state-sponsored system of doping, the IOC professed zero tolerance but contradicted its stance with its politics."

The federations meanwhile face a race against time, and there are doubts they can deliver and assure a level playing field.

“Don’t pass the baton to individual federations whilst knowing full well that they have neither the time nor resources to implement any action before the Games begin," Rutherford said.

Switzerland's Neue Zuercher Zeitung, which named the IOC decision "cowardly," warned "it can only be about superficial checks .... Olympic sport will not become any more credible."

The SZ also warned that "Russian officials, together with their many allies and vassals from eastern European, Arab and Asian primary producing countries occupy the international federations."

Last update: Mon, 25/07/2016 - 11:10
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