Summer Olympics sports feds balk at blanket ban for Russia

Summer Olympic sports federations said on Tuesday they are ready to deal with "individual cases" of Russian doping, rather than endorse a total ban on the Russian team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 28 sports in the games, said it recognized the "gravity and extent of the doping activities in Russia" as detailed in Monday’s report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.

The report, which accused Russia’s sports ministry of overseeing doping of the country’s Olympic athletes on a vast scale, listed 20 summer sports as being part of the cheating conspiracy.

WADA and other anti-doping officials urged the International Olympic Committee to consider the unprecedented step of excluding the entire Russian contingent from the Rio Games. The IOC executive board was meeting by teleconference later Tuesday to weight its options.

Any IOC decisions may not be definitive, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport is scheduled to rule on Thursday on Russia’s appeal against the IAAF ban on its track and field athletes from competing in Rio.

The summer sports association made clear they do not support a blanket ban.

The association asked WADA "to immediately provide all the detailed information to the 20 international federations concerned so that they may begin processing the individual cases under their own separate rules and regulations as soon as possible, and in line with the WADA Code and the Olympic Charter.

"It is important to focus on the need for individual justice in all these cases."

Blanket bans have never been and will never be just.

Bruno Grandi

The association said it endorses all federation decisions, "including those that take into account collective responsibility of organizations under the IFs’ governance."

That means, rather than applying a total ban, federations could suspend individual Russian sports. That’s already the case with the IAAF, which barred Russia’s track athletes from the games following previous WADA-commissioned reports into Russian doping.

"ASOIF fully supports a policy of zero tolerance in bringing all individuals linked to anti-doping violations to justice," the statement said.

The summer association’s position falls in line with recent comments by IOC President Thomas Bach, who has cited the need to strike a balance between "individual justice and collective punishment." He said last week that, if summer sports were implicated in the McLaren report, the international federations would have to decide on the eligibility of Russian athletes "on an individual basis."

McLaren’s report uncovered a state-run doping scheme that ensnared 28 sports, both summer and winter, and ran from 2011 to 2015.

The investigation told of 312 positive tests that Russia’s deputy minister of sport directed lab workers not to report to WADA. Russia’s intelligence serve, the FSB, was also involved, the report said. It also provided further details of the swapping of doping samples to protect Russian dopers, including medalists, at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

"I’m shocked and devastated by what’s been going on," said Paul Melia, the head of Canada’s anti-doping organization, after the findings were delivered on Monday in Toronto. "And I can only imagine how betrayed the clean athletes of the world are feeling today in the face of this evidence."

WADA President Craig Reedie, who is also an IOC vice president, said: "WADA insists upon imposition of the most serious consequences to protect clean athletes from the scourge of doping in sport."

But a blanket ban is not a sure thing.

The decision to deliver one is rife with political ramifications that involve a country that sent the third-most athletes (more than 430) to the previous Summer Olympics, four years ago in London. It puts the IOC in the position of ruling against one of its biggest supporters, a nation that spent more than $50 billion hosting the Winter Games in Sochi just two years ago.

"The right to participate at the games cannot be stolen from an athlete, who has duly qualified and has not been found guilty of doping," said Bruno Grandi, president of gymnastics’ international federation. "Blanket bans have never been and will never be just."

Gymnastics was not among the sports listed in the report. Wrestling, meanwhile, accounted for 28 of the 312 unreported positives. The head of that international federation, Nenad Lalovic of Serbia, told The Associated Press "we will absolutely follow the decisions of the IOC."

Whether the IOC issues its decision on Tuesday or simply sets the table for it to come later, it could be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS was hearing Russia’s appeal on Tuesday against the ban on its athletics team.