Bach: No decision on Russia until committees finish work
LONDON (AP) — The president of the International Olympic Committee insisted no decision will be made about Russia’s participation in the Winter Games until two committees investigating doping allegations against the country are through with their work.
Thomas Bach spoke Friday after the IOC executive board’s meeting with leaders of track and field’s governing body.
Allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia first arose within the track team. An investigation led by IOC member Dick Pound revealed that IAAF leaders conspired with Russian officials to cover up doping positives. That led to a revamp of the IAAF, establishment of an independent anti-doping unit and the suspension of Russia’s track team, which the IAAF council extended this week.
Nineteen Russians who have been cleared of wrongdoing will compete at world championships, which got underway Friday, as neutral athletes.
Asked if he would like to see Russia banned from the upcoming Olympics, Bach, who advised against a full Russian ban for the Rio de Janeiro Games, said: “I cannot prejudge the results, recommendations and decisions of our two commissions and the IOC executive board. This will depend very much on their work, so the rest would be speculation at this point.”
The IOC opted against a blanket ban of Russia for Rio even though evidence pointed to doping corruption in other sports. Instead, the IOC allowed each sport to determine who would be eligible. Even with the track team banned, 271 Russians competed in the Summer Games and combined for 55 medals.
Since then, another investigation has revealed even more corruption — including the swapping of tainted samples with clean ones through a small hole drilled at the testing lab at the Sochi Olympics — which has put the IOC in a similar position for the Pyeongchang Games in six months.
The IOC has two commissions reviewing evidence provided by Richard McLaren, whose own investigation stemmed from the Sochi Games and found more than 1,000 athletes covering 30 sports benefited from Russia’s doping program.
In refusing to commit to a decision about Russia for next year, Bach said the IOC was in a different circumstance than the IAAF, because corruption in track and field involved the federation’s own leadership.
“It was a courageous decision at the time and a courageous decision to follow it through,” he said. “The IOC has accepted and supported these measures from the very beginning. ... Different circumstances require different measures.”