10:57 Aug. 2, 2016
IOC's rejection of a full ban for Russian athletes criticized by many anti-doping bodies, athletes' groups and Western media
IOC President Thomas Bach issued another defense of his handling of the Russian doping scandal Monday, August 1, saying the decision not to exclude the entire Russian team from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics was based on human rights and justice.
Bach used his speech at the opening ceremony of the IOC's general assembly to address the continuing criticism of the Olympic body's response to evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia, declaring that individual athletes cannot be punished for the wrongdoing of their government.
"This decision is about justice," Bach said. "Justice has to be independent of politics. Whoever responds to a violation of the law with another violation of the law is destroying justice."
Rejecting calls from anti-doping bodies for a total ban on Russia, the IOC instead gave international sports federations the authority to rule on the entry of individual Russian athletes. The IOC also ruled that any Russian athletes with prior doping sanctions could not compete in the Rio Games, which open Friday.
While more than 100 Russians — including the track and field team — have been banned from the games, more than 250 have so far been cleared to compete by the federations.
"We had to take the necessary decisions," Bach said. "Because of the seriousness of the allegations, we could not uphold the presumption of innocence for Russian athletes. On the other hand, we cannot deprive an athlete of the human right to be given the opportunity to prove his or her innocence."
"You cannot punish a human being for the failures of his or her government if he or she is not implicated. These principles are now being implemented," Bach added.
The IOC's rejection of a full ban has been harshly criticized by many anti-doping bodies, athletes' groups and Western media. Full story