Paul Hayward writes:
They were searching for a way not to throw Russia out of the Olympics – and they found one, dumping the decision on the individual sports and banning a Russian whistleblower while also inviting her to Rio as a special guest. The white flag of capitulation flies over the International Olympic Committee.
Russia’s deep political reach should have told us this would happen. The buddy-act between Vladimir Putin and the IOC president, Thomas Bach, is indicative of a much greater distortion in world sport, which the Russians have used to their advantage.
External pressure to do with global politics and sport’s utter subservience to money was always going to shape the IOC’s thinking when it came to the era-defining decision on whether to cast Russia out.
In the end they came up with a feeble compromise, dropping moral responsibility from a great height on individual federations, who have 12 days to run through the legal minefield of considering each Russian case.
Many will lack the staff, legal-back up and resolve to deal with this legal landslide before the Rio opening ceremony.
Hiding behind the right of individual athletes not to be lumbered with collective responsibility for a state sponsored doping programme, the IOC want us to believe they have defended due process against the mob.
They have done nothing of the sort – and the clue is Yuliya Stepanova, who turned whistleblower on doping in Russian track and field but has been told she cannot compete in Rio, unlike dozens of other cheats who will hope that stressed international federations run out of time to properly decide their faith.
The IOC have basically guaranteed no one will whistle blow again.
Again, Russia is not the only country where doping is widespread. It is, however, the only nation we know of where ministers, administrators, secret service agents, athletes and coaches have conspired to defraud international sport on a scale that makes the East German model of the 1970s look miniscule.
‘State sponsored’ is the phrase to keep in mind, because this is the element that moves a doping scandal to a different level; one where a whole country becomes complicit and therefore ineligible to compete. With their disingenuous emphasis on individual rights, the IOC hoped we would forget that Russian cheating appears to be a political policy, like road building or defence.
That is the key difference. The Government was in charge of the doping regime.