Olympics Committee Considering Ban On All Russian Athletes From Rio Games

A month after an ongoing doping scandal led to Russia’s track and field athletes being barred from competing in the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee says it is looking into its options for enacting a ban on the entire Russian team.

Today’s announcement comes in the wake of a new report from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which seemed to confirm previous allegations by a Russian whistle-blower that the country’s national athletic organizations had been involved in a government-aided campaign to fake results of drug tests.

IOC President Thomas Back calls the findings in the WADA report “a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports” and says he plans to “take the toughest sanctions available.”

The IOC executive board says it has started taking disciplinary actions regarding alleged violations of the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code by Russian Ministry of Sports officials and others mentioned in the WADA report.

Of more importance to the hundreds of millions who will tune in to watch the Rio games, the executive board says it is exploring the legal options with regard to a “collective ban of all Russian athletes” from these games, which are slated to begin Aug. 5.

The International Association of Athletics Federations — the worldwide governing body for track and field sports — suspended the Russian team from international competition in Nov. 2015. It reiterated that suspension in June, effectively banning these athletes from competing in Rio.

The IOC, saying it wants to balance the integrity of the games with individual athletes’ legal rights, is looking closely at an ongoing appeal regarding this Russian track and field ban. Several dozen Russian team members have argued to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that they should not be barred from competition. That decision is expected to come down on July 21.

In addition to the potential ban on the Russian competitors, the IOC executive board has chosen to press pause on its involvement in any sporting events in Russia, including the 2019 European Games 2019, which are organized by the European Olympic Committees.

No Russian sports officials — or any individuals implicated in the WADA report — will be granted accreditation by the IOC for the Rio games. So even if some of the athletes compete, the Ministry of Sport staffers will not be on the premises.

The WADA report has triggered a new IOC investigation into Russian athletes who competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Coaches and support staff will also be part of the probe, which could result in sanctions if any wrongdoing is found.

The IOC is asking for other related sports organizations to freeze their preparations for major events in Russia, and to actively look for alternative locations. This would include World Championships, World Cups or other major international competitions.

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