IOC staunchly defends Russian presence in Rio
By Karolos Grohmann
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Partial sanctions against Russian athletes over the country's state-run doping system are preliminary, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said on Sunday, defending the organization's position amid vocal criticism.
The IOC opted not to ban all Russian athletes from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after revelations of a wide state-backed doping program across many sports.
Instead it chose a set of criteria for athletes to meet, including a clean doping past and sufficient testing at international events, that so far has allowed more than 250 out of the original 387 Russian athletes to be cleared for Rio.
Many anti-doping agencies, athletes and even senior IOC member Dick Pound sharply criticized the decision, saying the IOC lacked the leadership and courage to ban Russia, hosts of the 2014 Sochi winter Games, outright.
Some have even called for Bach's resignation.
"The negative opinions are the ones most likely to be quoted," Bach told reporters. "In these difficult decisions we will never have 100 percent majority."
"In such a debate which touches on fundamental principles... if you had 100 percent it would not be a good debate."
Bach said the decision taken this month to allow some Russians to compete was a difficult one but had to be made under severe time constraints due to the start of the Games on Aug. 5. Continued...