Decision to admit Russia to Rio Games fair: IOC President

Rio de Janeiro: The decision to let Russia participate in the 2016 OIympics was based on the principle of fairness and has nothing to do with politics, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said. He spoke while opening the 129th session of the IOC on Monday, reports Tass. The issue of Russia's participation in the Games was raised after publication of a report by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) led by Dr. Richard McClaren of Canada, who charged the Russian authorities with conniving with the Russian athletes' violations of the anti-doping laws. The IOC executive board refrained from imposing a blanket ban on Russia and delegated the power to approve athletes for participation to international sports federations. Bach said several decisions had been taken on the problem of Russian athletes' participation in the Games. He indicated the IOC did not find it possible to apply to the Russian athletes the principle of presumption of innocence given the seriousness of charges brought on against them. On the other hand, however, the IOC could not deny them their right to prove their innocence. "There is no punishing a person for the violations committed by the government if he or she is uninvolved in these violations, and this very principle was applied," Bach said. He said it was a fair decision, and was independent of politics. The data featured in the McClaren report are very serious and they concern, in part, the Russian Sports Ministry's involvement in the doping system, Bach added. The whole situation means an unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and the Olympic Games. The IOC reacted to the McClaren Commission data promptly and took definite steps, even though the commission has not finalised its report yet. The ruling of the executive board was unanimous and proceeded from the decision of the Olympic Summit that had been supported by all the parties concerned, Bach said. The final list of athletes of Russia at the Games has not been finalised still. The Games will be held from August 5 through August 21.