31 Jul 2016

New panel to decide on Russians at Rio

4:32 pm on 31 July 2016

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is setting up a three-member panel that will have the final say on which Russians can take part in the Rio Olympics, which start on Friday.

An athlete competes in a track and field event held by Russia's athletics federation for athletes banned from the Rio Olympics.

An athlete competes in a track and field event held by Russia's athletics federation for athletes banned from the Rio Olympics. Photo: AFP

Last week, the IOC was widely criticised for declining to impose a blanket ban on Russia, despite revelations of state-backed doping.

The governing body for each sport is to check athletes, who can also appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS).

IOC director of communications Mark Adams said the executive board would rule on each case.

"This review panel will look at every single decision of every single athlete to make sure that the IOC is happy with the decision that's been taken, that they've made all of these different levels of steps and that the decision by the ICAS arbitrator is also putting that forward.

"And then it's up to the panel to decide if they accept or not for each individual athlete."

Two Russian swimmers have made an appeal over their ban from Rio, saying they have never failed a doping test.

Last week the IOC said individual sports' governing bodies must decide if Russian competitors are clean but it now says the newly convened panel "will decide whether to accept or reject that final proposal".

More than 250 Russian athletes have so far been cleared to compete.

The three-person panel comprises Ugur Erdener, president of World Archery and head of the IOC medical and scientific commission, Claudia Bokel of the IOC athletes commission, and Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, son of the ex-IOC president of the same name.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) had recommended all Russian athletes be banned after its independently commissioned report found evidence of a four-year "doping programme" across the "vast majority" of Olympic sports.

The IOC stopped short of applying a blanket ban in a move criticised by Wada and others, while swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev have become the first Russian athletes to appeal against their ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Meanwhile, Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova has asked again for the IOC to reassess her exclusion from Rio.

The 800m runner's testimony helped shed light on the scale of doping in Russian sport, and she was to compete under a neutral flag in Rio.

But the IOC ruled that she should not be allowed to take part as she had previously failed a doping test.

In a letter to the IOC on Saturday, Ms Stepanova and her husband Vitaly asked the body to "reassess the decision on Yulia".

The IOC responded by saying it had rejected any review of her case and had not discussed the matter at its executive board meeting.

"The final decision has been taken already," Mr Adams said.

-BBC

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