IOC Decides Against Blanket Ban On Russian Olympic Athletes

Jul 24, 2016
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The International Olympic Committee said today that it will not ban all Russian athletes from competing at next month's games in Rio. The decision comes after an independent investigation found that the Russian government has been systematically helping its athletes cheat with performance-enhancing drugs. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: IOC President Thomas Bach said the decision holds Russian athletes accountable for their government's sports doping program.

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THOMAS BACH: We have set the bar to the limit by establishing a number of very strict criteria, which every Russian athlete will have to fulfill.

FLINTOFF: But at the same time, Bach said the plan allows for individual justice for athletes who haven't used drugs. The IOC said the decisions about which athletes can participate will be made by the international federations for each sport. The International Association of Athletics Federations has already decided to ban all Russian track and field competitors.

Others, like the federation for swimming, may decide that Russian athletes with no record of doping violations can compete. The IOC also banned any Russian athletes who've ever been suspended for doping violations. The decision disappointed many anti-doping officials who'd been calling for a ban on Russia's entire team.

Travis Tygart, the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said the International Olympic Committee had refused to take decisive leadership. The decision generally pleased Russia's sports minister, who said he believed about 80 percent of the Russian team can meet the criteria that the IOC laid out. With just 12 days remaining before the games begin in Rio, the question now is whether the international sports federations can make their decisions on Russian athletes in time for them to compete. Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.