Aug 042017

LONDON: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday defended its stance on Russia despite being criticised for baulking at calls to ban the country outright from last year’s Rio Olympics over doping.

Russia was accused in a World Anti-Doping Agency report last year of widespread state-sponsored doping. Its athletics team was barred by the IAAF from the Rio Games and will also miss the IAAF World Championships that got under way later Friday.But there was no blanket ban for Russia in Rio, the IOC coming under fire for instead allowing individual sports federations to decide which Russian athletes could compete.

IOC president Thomas Bach insisted that the IAAF was a special case, outlining the “collusive cooperation” Russian elements had enjoyed with the disgraced former IAAF president Lamine Diack and other corrupt people at the heart of track and field.

Russia “was discussed, it was raised”, Bach told a press conference here alongside current IAAF president Sebastian Coe, who initiated the ban on Russia and resultant reforms within global track and field’s governing body.

“It was very clear that, as we have always said, different issues need different approaches,” the German said.“The IAAF is in fact the only international federation, international sports organisation, which is, due to facts relating to the former leadership of the IAAF, implicated in the report of Professor McLaren as is the national federation of athletics of Russia,” he said in reference to the Canadian co-author of the bombshell report into the state-sponsored doping.

“This is the difference to all other international federations.”Bach added: “It was a courageous decision at the time and it is a courageous decision to follow it through.

“The IOC accepted and supported these measures from the very beginning.”IAAF head Coe said he had informed Bach of Russia’s “important step” on Thursday when Dmitry Shlyakhtin, head of the Russian athletics federation (RusAF), publicly apologised for the doping scandal.

“I expressed my comfort that the new head of RusAF was prepared to acknowledge the turbulence that they had had to deal with and the way in which they were gripping that return,” the Briton said.

“This was the roadmap we thought was the best roadmap for normalising the situation,” he said of the Rune Andersen-headed Taskforce set up by IAAF to oversee the return of Russia to international competition. —AFP

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