A report released by WADA last week revealed that Russia had been covering up failed drug tests for Olympic athletes for more than four years. The Russian track and field team had already been banned from the games, and in response to the WADA report, several nations competing called for a complete ban for Russian athletes in all sports.
The IOC – which has downplayed things like the Zika virus, bodies washing up on Brazil’s shores, and the thousand other problems that have plagued the build-up to the Rio Olympics – came down with its decision about whether or not to ban all Russian athletes from the games. The news will be a relief to Russian fans.
In a statement from its website explaining the decision, the IOC noted that with only 12 days until the games begin, it would not have enough time to complete due process in regards to determining a complete ban was needed:
Given the urgency of the situation, with the Olympic Games Rio 2016 starting in 12 days, and the athletes’ entry process already underway, the IOC EB had to take a preliminary decision with regard to the participation of Russian athletes in Rio de Janeiro…. this situation leads to an urgency for the IOC which does not allow it sufficient time for hearings for affected athletes, officials and organisations.
The IOC did decide that any Russian athlete who has failed a drug test, even if they have already served their ban, would not be allowed to compete. It also noted that Russian athletes would not have the “presumption of innocence” and would be subjected to more testing ahead of the games.
Under these exceptional circumstances, Russian athletes in any of the 28 Olympic summer sports have to assume the consequences of what amounts to a collective responsibility in order to protect the credibility of the Olympic competitions, and the “presumption of innocence” cannot be applied to them. On the other hand, according to the rules of natural justice, individual justice, to which every human being is entitled, has to be applied. This means that each affected athlete must be given the opportunity to rebut the applicability of collective responsibility in his or her individual case.
Russia is expected to have athletes competing in 26 of the 28 different Olympic sports in Rio.