Entire Russian olympic team will be banned from competing in Rio
The Daily Mail and other sources are reporting that the entire Russian olympic team of athletes - 387 sportsmen and sportswomen - will be banned by the International Olympic Committee from competing in the 2016 games that begin next month.
The ban is the result of the Russian government's sponsorship of illegal doping of athletes. The entire Russian athletic association, from top to bottom, was involved in systematically violating international rules on illegal drugs and blood doping, where an athlete's blood supply is enriched with oxygen.
According to well-placed sources, the International Olympic Committee will punish all 387 Russian sportsmen and women in the strongest possible way after revelations of their country’s state-sponsored doping programme shocked the world.
The country’s corrupt track and field stars have already been banned from the Games, and last week lost a desperate legal challenge to overturn that decision.
But today’s ruling – the most momentous in Olympic history – will see Russia’s medal hopes in cycling, judo, wrestling and all other disciplines excluded from competition in the wake of the scandal.
The controversy involved President Vladimir Putin’s sports ministry handing out cocktails of steroids and covering up tainted urine samples ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
As well as excluding Russian athletes from the forthcoming Games, senior IOC figures are also advocating a ban for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. An Olympic insider told the MoS: ‘The IOC want to ban Russia to show [doping] is an assault on the whole of sport.
‘That effectively means expulsion from Rio. But Thomas Bach (the IOC president) also wants to give consideration to the rights of individuals.’
To this end, a small number of Russian athletes who train abroad, subject to stringent anti-doping procedures and demonstrably free of Russia’s sphere of corruption, may be offered a lifeline to compete in Rio under a neutral flag.
It is understood that the Committee, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, will ask each international federation, the bodies responsible for individual Olympic sports, to examine the personal merits of potential Russian athletes, to assess whether they can compete as exceptional cases.
Two have already received dispensation to compete in Brazil – Yuliya Stepanova, the 800m runner and a key whistleblower in the doping scandal, and long jumper Darya Klishina, who is based and tested in Florida.
No doubt, there are going to be individuals in Rio guilty of the same thing the Russians are being banned for. But it was the state sponsorship of illegal doping in the entire sports ministry that forced the IOC's hand in banning the entire team.
There is something of an arms race between those who use illegal drugs, and the testers who look to feret them out. Every few years, the dopers are able to briefly get ahead of the testers, passing competition tests allowing them an unfair advantage.
But eventually, the testers catch on. In the case of Russia, there were a couple of whistleblowers who alerted the IOC to the doping. That made the job of the testers a lot easier and after a long investigation, led to the banning of Russian athletes.