November 11, 2015 / 5:54 AM / in 2 years

IOC chief expects Russian athletes to compete at Rio

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach delivers a speech during a ceremony opening the 1st World Olympians Forum (WOF) in Moscow, Russia, October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Olympics chief Thomas Bach expects Russia will comply with doping regulations in time for its athletes to compete at next year’s Rio Games despite calls for the country to be banned amid allegations of state-backed cheating.

An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) recommended Russia’s athletics federation be banned from the sport following allegations of widespread corruption and collusion by Russian officials, which include covering up positive drug tests.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it wanted disciplinary procedures to be opened and warned that any competitors, coaches or officials mentioned in the WADA report who were proved to have violated doping regulations would be punished and stripped of medals.

In an interview with New Zealand television on Wednesday, IOC President Bach would not speculate on whether all Russian athletes should be banned from the 2016 Olympics.

He said it was up to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to determine if sanctions were necessary.

“I will not speculate on this,” Bach said. “Now we have this enquiry about athletics, the international federation will draw its conclusion and will take the necessary measures.”

Bach added he had full confidence that new IAAF President Sebastian Coe would take action to clean up the sport and also expected Russian officials would comply with all procedures to ensure their athletes compete in Rio.

“We’re convinced that the president, Sebastian Coe, will do whatever is necessary,” Bach said.

”I think also Russia will cooperate to make progress and to be sure that Russian athletics are compliant with WADA.

“This is what it needs to be in order to participate in the Olympic Games.”

The IOC has provisionally suspended former global athletics head Lamine Diack, who is under investigation in France on suspicion of corruption and money laundering, and reiterated its stance that it had a zero tolerance policy against doping.

Bach, a trained lawyer, said it was important that the right procedures were followed to protect clean athletes.

Writing by Julian Linden in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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