Backlash for Olympic chiefs after Russia dodges blanket ban for Rio Olympics

Frank Dalleres
Follow Frank
14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 - Day Four
Former Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbaeva will not be in Rio as athletics has banned all Russian competitors, but other sports such as tennis and swimming may not (Source: Getty)

The International Olympic Committee [IOC] has been accused of a dereliction of duty after deciding not to impose a blanket ban on all Russian competitors at the Rio Games next month.

The IOC on Sunday instead ruled that the governing bodies of each sport represented at the Olympics must judge whether to accept or exclude athletes from Russia.

It means that Russia is likely to have entrants in events such as tennis and swimming but not athletics, and follows claims that the hosts ran a state-sponsored doping programme at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

Read more: Christine Ohuruogu hits back at questioning of her Rio 2016 selection

British four-time Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent said the IOC had “hospital passed” the decision to international federations, adding: “What a cop-out.”

Fellow oarsman Matthew Pinsent said the IOC had “passed the buck” and “bottled it” – a phrasing repeated by former Team GB heptathlete Kelly Sotherton – and called it a “bad day”.

Former Olympic 400m bronze medallist Katherine Merry went further, writing on Twitter: “IOC are useless... what exactly would a country have to do to get a blanket ban?”

The IOC’s controversial decision, less than two weeks before the Olympics start on 5 August, also stipulates that only Russians with no prior doping convictions will be admitted to compete in Rio.

That means that while convicted cheats such as American sprinter Justin Gatlin will be present, there will be no place for two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbaeva, who has never been charged with doping, or whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, who had been cleared to compete as a neutral athlete.

United States Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart said: “Disappointingly, in response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership.”

Russian sports minuter Vitaly Mutko said he was “very grateful” to the IOC, saying it had rightly decided that “every athlete whose reputation today is untarnished, who is clean, without doping, has the right to compete in the Olympics.”

Related articles