Photographer: Harry How/Getty Images

Russia Escapes Rio Olympic Ban Over State-Sponsored Doping

  • Only Russians who passed international tests will compete
  • Athlethes, who had ever been charged with doping won’t go

The International Olympic Committee allowed Russian athletes with clean drug records to compete next month in Rio de Janeiro, stopping short of a complete ban of the country’s competitors after a massive state-backed doping program was exposed.

QuickTake The Dope on Doping

The athletes can compete only if they are able “to provide evidence to the full satisfaction of his or her international federation" that they have satisfied anti-doping requirements, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based IOC said in a statement Sunday. Only athletes who pass "reliable adequate international tests” will compete, and Russian tests were deemed invalid, according to the statement.

Russia Minister For Sport Vitaly Mutko said he is sure most of the athletes meet the IOC’s conditions.

The IOC is banning any Russian athlete who has ever tested positive for drug use. Russian officials and athletes mentioned in the independent report by Richard McLaren, which was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and found the Russian Sports Ministry oversaw a vast program to manipulate doping test results, won’t be accredited for Rio, the IOC said. The games begin Aug. 5.

For a QuickTake explainer on sports doping, click here

The McLaren report stopped short of ostracizing Russia, which together with the Soviet Union has won more medals in the Games’ history than any other nation except the U.S. President Vladimir Putin has tried to frame the doping scandal in the context of the country’s tensions with the West, which have soured in the two years since he triumphantly hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

‘Hard Debates’

Clean individual “athletes shouldn’t be sanctioned for the system,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on the call with reporters.  "The decision was reached after hard debates," but it allows clean Russian athletes to prove their rights to compete in Rio, he said.

Most of the Russian team and sport federations will satisfy to criteria, Mutko said at a press conference shown by Rossiya-24 state television. The nation is ready to change its doping system jointly with WADA, he said.

Putin complained after the doping report was published July 18 that sport was being turned into a tool of “geopolitical pressure” in ways similar to those that led to boycotts of the 1980 Moscow games and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics at the height of the Cold War. “We are seeing a dangerous return to politics interfering with sport,” Putin said in a statement on the Kremlin’s website.

The Russian president also ordered the creation of a new anti-doping commission, proposing Vitaly Smirnov, a former Soviet sports official, to be in charge.

The IOC’s decision adheres to WADA’s recommendation to ban all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee for competition in Rio, limiting participation to Russian nationals who compete under a neutral flag.

Russia also faces the prospect of losing some medals won in Sochi as the IOC reviews all Russian athletes who participated in the 2014 Olympics and has requested that WADA disclose the names of Russian athletes implicated in manipulating doping tests.

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