Bach won't 'speculate' on chances of Russians going to Rio

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2016 12:11 PM
Bach won't 'speculate' on chances of Russians going to Rio

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach refused to be drawn on whether it could allow some Russian athletes in the Rio de Janeiro Games even if the country's track and field team remains banned over state-sponsored doping allegations.

The International Olympic Committee has scheduled a summit of sports leaders on June 21 to harmonize policy on eligibility for the games. The meeting will come four days after the IAAF decides whether to maintain or lift its suspension of Russia's track and field athletes from global competition.

"I cannot speculate," Bach said on Friday. "This meeting on the 21st will be to protect the clean athletes and ensure a level playing field for all the athletes participating in Rio de Janeiro.

"We know whatever decision we will take there may be one or the other who will not like it," Bach added. "But we have to take our responsibility to protect the clean athletes, and we are ready to take this responsibility."

The IAAF suspended Russia's athletics federation in November after a World Anti-Doping Commission panel alleged state-backed doping, corruption, and cover-ups in its program.

Calls to keep the Russians out of Rio have grown following further allegations, including claims by the former director of Moscow's drug-testing lab that he doped Russian athletes and helped to switch tainted samples for clean ones at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. WADA has launched an independent probe into those allegations, which were published in the New York Times.

Several Olympic officials have said it would be wrong to ban all the Russians, contending that clean athletes who have done nothing wrong would be unfairly punished. Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has said she would go to a human rights court if she is barred from the games.

Asked whether he hoped the Russians would be in Rio, Bach said: "I'm not living in the world of hopes."

Bach said the IOC must act quickly because qualifying for the Olympics is coming to a close, and nominations for the games are due by July 12.

"We cannot just sit and wait," he said. "We will take our responsibility."

Meanwhile, the IOC continues to retest stored doping samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. So far, 55 positive tests have been recorded from Beijing and London, including 22 from Russian athletes.

The tests are targeted on athletes who could be competing in Rio.