'Make a decision about Russia's Winter Olympics involvement ASAP,' says head of Wada

Ben Rumsby
The Telegraph
Russia is in danger of being banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics - AP2011
Russia is in danger of being banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics - AP2011

Sir Craig Reedie has called on the International Olympic Committee to decide “at the earliest possible date” whether to throw Russia out of next year’s Winter Games.

But the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency stopped short of demanding the rogue nation be banned from the PyeongChang Olympics, despite being part of the Wada executive board which called for it to be expelled from Rio 2016.

Russia is understood to be in danger of missing the Winter Olympics after being found to have orchestrated the biggest drugs scandal in history.

The IOC refused to expel it from the Rio Games after it was found guilty of state-sponsored doping in an explosive report.

But the publication of the second part of that report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren in December has resurrected the prospect of such a punishment being imposed.

The first part of the McLaren report prompted the IOC to launch two separate investigations to examine its findings and give Russia the opportunity to rebut them.

But the damning evidence produced upon the release of the second part of the McLaren’s report – particularly that which corroborated testimony of a spy-novel style sample-swapping scam in Sochi – is proving to be a smoking gun.

Efforts to use the report to punish individual athletes over the scheme are also floundering over the difficulty of proving they were aware of it being carried out on their behalf.

That could tip the balance between what Thomas Bach, IOC president, has previously described as “collective responsibility and individual justice” in favour of a blanket ban in the coming months when he and his executive board take a decision on what it described in December as “the appropriate measures and sanctions related to the Olympic Games”.

<span>Russia managed to avoid a blanket ban from the 2016 Rio Games</span> <span>Credit: EPA </span>
Russia managed to avoid a blanket ban from the 2016 Rio Games Credit: EPA

Opinion has hardened against Russia across the sporting spectrum amid its ongoing denial of responsibility at state level for a programme from which McLaren found 1,000 athletes benefited.

Speaking at the SportsPro Live conference at Wembley, Reedie – who is also an IOC member – said: “I think steps could be taken now which would allow the IOC to make that decision and preferably make it at the earliest possible date, in fairness to the Winter Games, in fairness to the competition involving the world’s athletes, as well as the federations themselves.

“And the only way to do that is to make sure that the work that is being done by the two disciplinary commissions which have been funded – one is the institutionalised doping, the other the individual athletes – to get them together to finish their work as quickly as possible.”

Stopping short of calling for Russia to be banned, Reedie added: “We’re a long, long way away from PyeongChang. We were four or five weeks away from the Rio Games. I think there is time to resolve that.”

Earlier this year, Russia was effectively thrown out of the athletics World Championships in London, with it being made clear that its readmission to international competition was dependent on an admission of guilt or a credible rebuttal.

About | McLaren Report into Russian doping

It is also on course to be expelled from the World Para Athletic Championships thanks to its ongoing ban by the International Paralympic Committee.

The country was stripped of biathlon’s 2021 World Championships, which had been awarded in defiance of a directive from the IOC not to stage events there.

That followed the removal from Sochi of the upcoming bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships.


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