IOC members reject 'nuclear option'
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):
IOC President Thomas Bach lashed out yesterday against those calling for the "nuclear option'" a complete ban on Russian athletes from the Rio de Janeiro Games as he and other members blamed global anti-doping officials for a scandal that has rattled the Olympic movement.
Bach opened the International Olympic Committee's three-day general assembly by seeking formal backing of the members for the executive board's handling of the Russian doping scandal. After a debate lasting more than two hours, Bach asked for a show of hands, and only one of the 85 members Britain's Adam Pengilly voted against his position.
Despite evidence of a state-run doping programme in Russia, the IOC board rejected calls for a total ban and left it to international sports federations to decide on the entry of individual Russian athletes for the games, which open on Friday.
Bach again blamed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for failing to act sooner on evidence of state-backed doping in Russia and releasing its findings so close to the start of the games. He said it would be wrong to make individual Russian athletes "collateral damage" for the wrongdoing of their government.
"Leaving aside that such a comparison is completely out of any proportion when it comes to the rules of sport, let us, just for a moment, consider the consequences of a 'nuclear option,'" Bach said. "The result is death and devastation. This is not what the Olympic Movement stands for. The cynical 'collateral damage' approach is not what the Olympic Movement stands for."
"What is therefore not acceptable is the insinuation by some proponents of this 'nuclear option' that anyone who does not share their opinion is not fighting against doping," he added.
The IOC has been roundly criticised by many anti-doping bodies, athletes' groups and Western media for not apply a complete ban on the Russian team. Pressure for a full ban grew after WADA investigator Richard McLaren issued a report accusing Russia's sports ministry of orchestrating a vast doping conspiracy involving athletes across more than two dozen summer and winter Olympic sports.
"Natural justice does not allow us to deprive a human being of the right to prove their innocence," Bach said.