IOC offers Rio lifeline to Russian track and field athletes

Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:56pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Individual Russian track and field athletes assessed as clean will be able to compete for their country in Brazil, the Olympic Games' top official said on Tuesday, diluting a blanket ban the sport's global federation had called for.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also said all competitors from both Russia and Kenya would, given their countries' recent history of doping, have to be screened individually before being allowed to participate in the Games.

He did not elaborate on what the evaluation would include.

The Russian track and field team remains suspended from Rio de Janeiro after the IOC supported the ban, for systemic doping, which world athletics federation IAAF had extended on Friday.

But Bach, speaking at the end of a summit on doping, offered a limited number of Russian athletes the chance to race under their flag.

In a decision welcomed by the sports ministry in Moscow, he said those cleared by the IAAF or the Court of Arbitration for Sport as clean and eligible would be able to compete in Brazil.

The unsatisfactory record of anti-doping bodies in Russia, as well as Kenya, had put "very serious doubts on the presumption of innocence" of their athletes, Bach said.

But they had the right of appeal and "if there are (Russian) athletes qualified then they will compete as members of the Russian Olympic Committee team," he told reporters.   Continued...

President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov attends the Olympic Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse