The International Olympic Committee’s decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Games over state-run doping left international sports leaders divided on Monday, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.
Seeking to justify Sunday’s decision, IOC president Thomas Bach said an outright ban would trample the rights of clean Russian athletes who are hoping to compete at the upcoming Games.
Individual sports federations will have primary responsibility for determining every Russian athlete’s eligibility for Rio, the IOC executive said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency last week called for Russia to be banned after detailing how Russia’s sports ministry had directed a massive cheating programme with help from the FSB state intelligence agency.
United States anti-doping chief Travis Tygart — one of many who urged a total ban against Russia — accused the IOC of creating “a confusing mess” with its decision.
“In response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership,” the USADA boss said in a statement.
Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel also criticised the IOC’s decision to “pass the hot potato to international federations”.
“The fight against doping in sport requires strong international leadership, none more so in this case, where the integrity of an entire Olympic and Paralympic Games is at stake,” added Australian Sports Minister Sussan Ley.
WADA officials said they were “disappointed” with the IOC’s decision, which director general Olivier Niggli said would “inevitably lead to a lack of harmonisation, potential challenges and lesser protection for clean athletes”.
The cheating affected 30 sports, including at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and other major events, WADA said, in revelations that widened the worst drug scandal in Olympic history.