The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, said that it was important not to deprive the the Russian athletes the chance to prove their innocence, despite the damaging McLaren report on State-sponsored doping in the country.
Addressing the media after the IOC session on Thursday, Bach said that the difficult question of the consequences for the athletes had to be addressed, and that a fair decision had to be made so that he could look into the eyes of the athletes.
“We wanted to follow the rules of justice, independent from politics. We cannot destroy justice. Individual justice and the presumption of innocence is a right applied to everyone. But the evidence was in so much detail that this principle could not be held up entirely. We reversed the presumption of innocence. But we cannot deprive them of the right to prove that innocence,” Bach said.
Guided by the independent observers of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the IOC has imposed strict eligibility criteria on Russian athletes for competing in the Rio Olympics.
“We can send a message for clean athletes in Russia. If you are clean, you can be respected and rewarded. You must follow your dream as a clean athlete. Don’t fall into a trap, don’t listen to those who say that only by doping you can achieve. There is no place to hide for cheats and dopers,” Bach said.
Touching upon the comprehensive re-analysis programme for samples taken in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Bach said that the system had already identified about 100 athletes who tested positive and cannot compete in Rio. He added that in collaboration with WADA, the IOC had tested 2200 athletes, as part of the extensive pre-Olympic testing procedure.
Stating that the CAS would sanction on the issue, Bach said he wanted to ensure that the situation did not repeat. He was categorical about the “serious allegations against the Russian minister of sport,” and said that it was decided, “no Russian sports minister will receive accreditation for Rio.”
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