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IOC evaluates Rio 2016 ban for Russia, withdraws backing for events

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board has today (Tuesday) commenced disciplinary action against officials named in the McLaren Investigation Report into widespread doping in Russian sport, adding it will “carefully evaluate” its legal options surrounding a blanket ban of Russian athletes for the 2016 Olympic Games as well as withdrawing backing for any sports event or meeting in the country under additional provisional measures.

The IOC today deliberated over Monday’s damning independent report produced by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren which revealed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and details of a system that included cheating and manipulation of tests by athletes and officials as far back as 2011.

The IOC board said it has today started disciplinary actions related to the involvement of officials within the Russian Ministry of Sports and other persons mentioned in the report because of violations of the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code. To accelerate this procedure, the board has established a five-person Disciplinary Commission which will be chaired by Guy Canivet, vice-chair of the IOC Ethics Commission and former member of the French Constitutional Court.

With regard to the participation of Russian athletes at Rio 2016, the IOC said it will carefully evaluate the McLaren report. It said it will “explore the legal options” with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympics versus the right to individual justice. In this respect, the IOC will take Thursday’s decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) into account. The CAS is expected to rule on the eligibility of 68 Russian athletes who have appealed to compete in Rio.

The IOC said that given the “urgency” of the matter it has already taken seven provisional measures. These are headlined by the IOC stating it will not organise or give patronage to any sports event or meeting in Russia. This includes plans for the 2019 European Games.

In January, the European Olympic Committees (EOC) said Russia remained its preferred destination for the 2019 European Games, in spite of the doping scandal affecting athletics in the country. The cities of Sochi and Kazan had been pencilled in as co-hosts of the second edition of the Games. Russia stepped in after the Netherlands pulled out of staging the event, citing financial concerns.

The IOC said it will not grant any accreditation to any official of the Russian Ministry of Sport or any person implicated in the McLaren report for Rio 2016. The IOC will initiate reanalysis, including forensic analysis, and a full inquiry into all Russian athletes who participated at Sochi 2014, as well as their coaches, officials and support staff. For this purpose, a specific Disciplinary Commission has been established under the chairmanship of Denis Oswald.

Due to the allegations surrounding Sochi 2014, the IOC has requested that all international Olympic winter sports federations freeze their preparations for major events in Russia and actively look for alternative organisers.

The IOC has asked all International Federations (IFs) for a full inquiry and, in case of implication in infringements of the World Anti-Doping Code, sanctions against Russian national federations by the respective IF. Such inquiries are asked to be coordinated with the work of McLaren.  The IOC said these provisional measures apply until December 31. They will be reviewed by the IOC at its board meeting in December.

The IOC has also requested the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) extend the mandate of McLaren to communicate the names of Russian athletes implicated in the ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology’ and the alleged manipulation of the doping tests performed by the Sochi laboratory to the respective IFs and, where appropriate, to the IOC, in order to allow them to take “swift action”.