The International Olympic Committee should get much tougher on Russia by banning the country's Olympic Committee and not just recommending sanctions, former IOC member Adam Pengilly said on Tuesday.
The Briton, a former Olympic skeleton racer and IOC member from 2010-18 who was the only member to vote against an IOC decision on Russia over the country's doping scandals, said the Olympic ruling body needed to take a tougher stance.
In 2016 Pengilly had called for a blanket ban of Russia at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over its doping scandal after the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. He voted against the IOC Executive Board's recommendation to leave it up to federations to clear Russian athletes to compete. Every other IOC member voted in favour.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many sports bodies have moved events and suspended Russian teams or athletes from competing while sponsors have ended contracts in protest against the war. The IOC has recommended that events in Russia be cancelled or relocated and that Russian and Belarusian athletes not take part or compete under a neutral flag.
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It has issued no sanctions against the Russia Olympic Committee and its leadership or against the Russian members of the IOC.
“The IOC has recommended that international sport federations take a view of suspending Russian athletes and Russian national federations,” Pengilly, also a former board member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told Reuters in an interview.
“Yet, the IOC have not suspended the Russian Olympic Committee. So on one hand, they're telling others to do it. But at the same time, they're not doing it themselves. Some might describe that as hypocritical. At least they've prompted others to do so but I think they should take a leaf out of their own book and do the same with the Russian Olympic Committee.”
The IOC has said its recommendations are aimed at ensuring the fairness, safety and integrity of competitions under difficult circumstances. “This clear exposure of the Russian government and its members as being responsible also recognises that this war has not been started by the Russian people, Russian athletes or Russian sports organisations,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in an open letter last week.
The IOC regularly sanctions or threatens with sanctions national Olympic committees for issues such as government interference or legislation changes that could affect the autonomy of sport, as in recent cases involving India and Kuwait.
It also sanctioned the Belarus Olympic Committee leadership in 2020 following widespread protests in the country.
The Russian Olympic Committee and its leadership, past or present, however, have not been sanctioned at any time during the years-long doping scandal during which Russia tarnished six consecutive Olympics since 2012.
“I do believe Russia has a great deal of influence and power within international sport, and perhaps particularly the IOC,” Pengilly said.
“So there's a reluctance. Russia hosts a lot of events. It sponsors a lot of events, and they're obviously a successful nation in a lot of sports and so they wield a lot of power and a lot of influence.”
“That's perhaps the obvious reason why sporting bodies and in particular, the IOC have been reluctant to sanction in the recent past,” he added.
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