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IOC Upholds IAAF's Ban on Russian Athletics, With Some Exceptions

the IOC has upheld the IAAF's ban on Russian track and field, but clean athletes can still compete, possibly under the Russian flag.

As was generally expected, the IOC has announced that it will respect the IAAF's decision to suspend Russia's track and field team from Rio for one of the most concerted doping schemes in sports. IOC President Thomas Bach announced the decision after a meeting today in Lausanne, Switzerland, saying that the Olympics governing body unanimously supported the IAAF's ruling.

Speaking at a news conference, Bach said that in light of the "serious allegations" against Russia, the IOC decided to support the IAAF proposal that all Russian athletes hoping to compete in Rio will have to pass individual evaluations by the IAAF.


That's not entirely a full-throated support of the IAAF's decision, however, because it does leave the door open for individual athletes to still compete in Rio—if the IAAF can certify they are clean. Bach alluded to this possibility in his initial response to the IAAF's decision last Friday, as he sought to balance fairness to individuals and the integrity of the sport. In the end, the IOC opted to allow clean athletes to compete under the Russian flag.

There is a bit of a technical point being made in the decision, with Bach noting that although the entire athletics team had been banned, athletes are sent to the Olympics by their National Olympic Committee, not the bodies organizing individual disciplines. The Russian Olympic Committee has not been banned, so those athletes still have a way in to Rio.

On Friday the IAAF described that route to Rio as only a "very tiny crack" in the door. To qualify, athletes would have to prove they were not "tainted" by the systemic doping in the country and were also able to present clean tests taken outside of the country.

"There won't be many athletes who manage to get through that crack in that door," Andersen said.

The IAAF initially ruled that even clean athletes would be barred, and later softened that stance to allow for clean athletes to compete under a "neutral flag," so it's unclear how this will play out in August. Regardless of what flag they compete under, it will only affect a small group of athletes.


The Russian Ministry of Sport released the following statement:

"We respect the statement made today by the International Olympic Committee and fully support its zero tolerance approach to doping.

"We have long stated that individual athletes in Russia are willing to demonstrate their innocence and prove they are clean. Our Olympians are ready to go over and above all the normal anti-doping tests to show their commitment to clean and fair sport. For example, all track and field athletes had already agreed to undergo a minimum of three additional anti-doping controls carried out by the IAAF before the Olympic Games.

"We look forward to working closely with the International Federations to determine how to assess eligibility."