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IOC president stands against blanket ban for Russian athletes at 2016 Rio

August 02, 17:33 UTC+3
Thomas Bach stresses he firmly rejected all demands of imposing a blanket ban on the Russian Olympic team
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Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee


RIO DE JANEIRO, August 2. /TASS/. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday he firmly rejected all demands of imposing a blanket ban on the Russian Olympic team from the participation in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

"You can be sure that the IOC Executive Board and the Olympic Summit took all the different arguments into consideration and discussed them thoroughly," Bach said addressing the opening of the 129th IOC Session in Brazl’s Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.

"What concerned me in this particular debate was that some called for the blanket ban of the Russian Olympic team well before the findings of the McLaren report were known," the IOC president said. "Others did the same before the accused side had the opportunity to respond."

"This blanket ban of the Russian Olympic Committee has been called by someone ‘the nuclear option’," Bach said. "And the innocent athletes would have to be considered as collateral damage."

"Leaving aside that such a comparison is completely out of proportion when it comes to sport, let us just for a moment consider the consequences of a nuclear option - the result is death and devastation," he said.

"This is not what the Olympic movement stands for," according to Bach. "The cynical collateral damage approach is not what the Olympic Movement stands for. The Olympic Movement stands for life and the construction of better future. This mission of a better future for and through sport is what needs to guide us."

"And this mission of a better sport includes a more robust and efficient worldwide anti-doping system," he said. "We can only move to a better future through a discussion held in mutual respect."

Russian athletes’ presumption of innocence questioned due to state actions

 Russian government’s suspected wrongdoings in the sphere of doping in sports were the cause for the IOC Executive Board to revise the principle of the presumption of innocence in regard to Russian athletes, Bach added.

"The basic and difficult question we [the IOC] had to answer is - can you hold any athlete responsible for the wrongdoing of the government of his or her country? The basic principle of natural law is that any human being is entitled to individual justice and has to be presumed innocent."

"This of course also applies to athletes," Bach said. "However, in this case, the allegations weigh so heavily and they are so detailed that these principles could not be upheld in their entirety.

"Therefore, the IOC Executive Board had to reverse the presumption of innocence for Russian athletes and to make him or her bear the collective responsibility for the alleged failures of the government," the IOC president said.

"Nevertheless, natural justice does not allow us to deprive a human being of the right to prove the innocence. This is why the IOC Executive Board granted this right to the Russian athletes and imposed strict eligibility criteria on them. The IOC is the last instance to decide whether these criteria have been met and it will follow the advice of an independent CAS expert on this matter."

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