BERN • Russia's participation in the Rio Olympics next month was still in the balance after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday said it would "explore legal options" for banning the country from the Games.
At an emergency IOC executive board meeting in Switzerland, the day after a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) independent report detailed a state-run doping programme in Russia, members fell short of an immediate ban but they did issue a series of measures relating to the report.
The IOC has also ordered a disciplinary commission to look into the role of Russian officials who are involved in the doping scandal.
"With regard to the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the IOC will carefully evaluate the IP Report," a statement said.
"It will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice."
In addition, it added that the committee would have to take into consideration the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision due tomorrow concerning the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Charter.
GOING DOWN THE LEGAL PATH
(IOC) will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice.
IOC REPORT, explaining the organisation's stance on organised doping in Russia.
THE RUSSIAN ARGUMENT
Now we're observing a dangerous relapse into the interference of politics in sport.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, attacking the IOC and the Wada report.
CAS is due to rule on the dispute between Russia, 68 of its athletes and the governing body of world athletics over their Rio participation after the IAAF banned the country from the Rio track and field programme.
The report, commissioned by Wada and compiled by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, on Monday revealed evidence of widespread doping by Russian sportsmen and women and extensive cover-ups by officials, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Russian city of Sochi.
The IOC said yesterday it had started disciplinary action against officials mentioned in the report and that anyone implicated would not be given accreditation for Rio.
Given the report's details of extensive cover-ups of positive tests in Sochi, the IOC has ordered the immediate re-testing of all Russian athletes who took part, as well as a full inquiry.
It also called for a halt to international events in Russia.
"Because of the detailed references to the manipulation of samples during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, the IOC asks all International Olympic Winter Sports Federations to freeze their preparations for major events in Russia," the IOC said.
The Olympic leadership also said this should include world championships, World Cups or other major international competitions.
Earlier yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin cast doubt on the validity of the findings of the Wada report, questioning the integrity of the whistleblower Grigor Rodchenko - who worked as head of anti-doping for the Moscow laboratory between 2005 and 2015 - and dismissed the demands for Russia to be thrown out of the Olympics as politically motivated.
In a statement, Putin warned: "Now we're observing a dangerous relapse into the interference of politics in sport. Yes, the form of that interference has changed but the essence is the same, to make sport an instrument of geopolitical pressure and the formation of a negative image of countries and peoples.
"The Olympic movement, which plays a colossal unifying role for humanity, could again wind up on the edge of schism."
Meanwhile, football's world ruling body Fifa has promised "appropriate steps" after the Wada report said a dozen positive doping cases in Russian football were among hundreds covered up by Moscow.
Fifa did not comment directly on claims in the report that Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who sits on its supervisory Fifa Council, had ordered the cover-up in the cases of the footballers.
The IOC, however, has confirmed that Mutko has been barred from attending the Rio Games.
"Fifa will request from Wada all details concerning the individual cases of doping in Russian football that are referenced in the McClaren report," Fifa said in a statement.
"Once Fifa receives this information from Wada, it will take the appropriate next steps."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN