IOC meet to discuss Russian fallout

IOC meet to discuss Russian fallout

 Less than a week before the opening of the Olympics, IOC leaders will meet in Rio de Janeiro this weekend to review the final preparations for the games and deal with the fallout from the doping scandal that has led to the exclusion of more than 100 Russian athletes.

The International Olympic Committee’s ruling executive board opened a two-day meeting on Saturday, its last formal gathering before next Friday night’s opening ceremony at the Maracana stadium.

The meeting comes less than a week after the IOC board decided not to ban Russia’s entire team from the games because of state-sponsored doping. Rejecting calls by more than a dozen anti-doping agencies for a complete ban on Russia, the IOC left it to individual sports federations to vet which athletes could compete or not.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that, so far, 272 of the country’s athletes had been cleared by out of an original team of 387.

More than 100, however, have been barred, including the track and field team banned by the IAAF and more than 30 other athletes rejected under new eligibility criteria.

The IOC has been roundly criticised by anti-doping bodies, athletes groups and Western media for not imposing a total ban on Russia. Pressure for the full sanction followed a World Anti-Doping Agency report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren that accused Russia’s sports ministry of overseeing a vast doping conspiracy involving the country’s summer and winter sports athletes.

Bach has defended the decision as protecting individual athletes from collective punishment. “This is a decision we just had the opportunity to discuss with some athletes,” Bach said in Rio. “I think the general feeling is that it is appreciated that, on the one hand, we are sanctioning a (doping) system, but on the other hand we have given athletes who were not part of the system the opportunity to demonstrate this and then to be allowed to take part in the Olympic Games.” 

Rio’s preparations, meanwhile, remain clouded on several fronts, including budget cuts, raw sewage that pollutes the sites of rowing, sailing, canoeing, open water swimming and triathlon and concerns over crime and the Zika virus. The games come with the president awaiting an impeachment trial and the country gripped by a severe recession.

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