Bach defends IOC decision on Russia

The IOC on Sunday opted to afford each Russian athlete the opportunity to prove their innocence to the respective international federations governing their sport, despite there being less than two weeks until the Olympics begin in Brazil.

Thomas Bach - cropped

Thomas Bach was forced repeatedly to defend the IOC's stance, mounting an impassioned defence of what has already proven a highly contentious decision and could yet cast a major shadow over the Rio Games.

Thomas Bach acknowledges the decision not to impose a blanket ban from Rio 2016 on Russian competitors will come under criticism, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president insists the body is obliged to preserve the human right of individual justice.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had recommended barring Russian athletes from next month's Games, after revelations of a state-sponsored doping programme compromising the results of the country's representatives in numerous sports in recent years.

The IOC on Sunday opted to afford each Russian athlete the opportunity to prove their innocence to the respective international federations governing their sport, despite there being less than two weeks until the Olympics begin in Brazil.

Russian track and field athletes are already the subject of a suspension from the IAAF, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] having this week rejected an appeal against that ban on behalf of 68 affected individuals.

Speaking to the media via a conference call in the wake of the IOC's decision, Bach conceded there was likely to be condemnation of a perceived failure to take a hard-line stance.

However, the former fencer, a gold medalist in Montreal in 1976, insisted the right outcome had been reached.

"This is not about expectations, this is about doing justice to clean athletes," said Bach.

"We are protecting clean athletes because of the high criteria we set for all the Russian athletes.

"This may not please everybody on either side. But the result today is one that is respecting the rules of justice and the right of all the clean athletes.

"We have set the bar to the limit by establishing strict criteria every Russian athlete will have to fulfil."

Responding to concerns about each international federation's ability to process the claims of Russian athletes hoping to prove their innocence in time to compete at the Games, Bach indicated work had already begun prior to Sunday's announcement.

"This is a very ambitious timeline. But we had no choice. We had this report that was compiled in 60 days and we had to react to it in a very short time limit," he added, referring to the independent investigation that found proof of a "state-dictated" system to protect Russian dopers.

"Many federations have already taken a great effort and will be able to produce their documents in the next couple of days."

Bach was forced repeatedly to defend the IOC's stance, mounting an impassioned defence of what has already proven a highly contentious decision and could yet cast a major shadow over the Rio Games.

"It's fine to speak about collective responsibility and banning everybody, but you have to be able to look into the eyes of the individual athlete concerned," he said.

"I'm convinced of this decision."