Thomas Bach defends IOC’s handling of Russia doping case

Thomas Back

President Thomas Bach defended the International Olympic Committee’s approach to the Russian doping problem, even though the final Winter Olympics participants will not be confirmed until hours before tomorrow’s opening ceremony.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will make decisions, either tonight or tomorrow morning, over whether the IOC must invite 47 athletes to compete in Pyeongchang. The 23rd Winter Games open on tomorrow evening.

Bach insisted the IOC has dealt with the issue as best it can and says the IOC, CAS and the World Anti-Doping Agency will convene to ensure a repeat of the chaotic build-up to a second successive Olympics, after Rio 2016, will not be repeated.

Bach said yesterday: “The timing there was not in our hands. Studies had to be done, evidence had to be provided, fair hearings for the Russian athletes had to be offered.”

The German insisted the IOC could not act solely on the damning findings of systemic doping by Russians at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics alone, as any disciplinary action resulting from the McLaren Report would not have been successful.

Bach declined to speculate on the outcome of the CAS hearings, but expects CAS president John Coates and his WADA equivalent Craig Reedie to discuss the way forward.

“We’re very pleased the president of CAS yesterday made the offer to have a round table forum with stakeholders to see what they need to do,” Bach said.

“And the president of WADA has also made it clear that also WADA will look into these matters.

“Hopefully soon we can have a strengthened system in anti-doping, as far as the IOC and international federations are concerned (so) we have a strengthened system which allows us to protect our values.”

CAS announced yesterday that the case of 32 Russians had been adjourned.

And when the panel reconvenes at the ad hoc division of CAS to hear the case today, it will also consider a new case involving 15 additional athletes.

The IOC was given until 9am local time today to provide its written submission, with the panel scheduled to reconvene at 12 noon.

“The panel’s decisions are expected to be announced either late in the evening of February 8, 2018 or in the morning of February 9, 2018,” CAS said in a statement.

Forty-three Russians were banned for life from the Olympics on December 5, in the wake of an IOC investigation into doping at the Sochi Games. CAS overturned the suspensions of 28 of those athletes and partially upheld 11 other appeals.

The IOC in December determined that Russian athletes who proved they were clean could to compete as neutrals in the Games. The Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR) will compete under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies they feature in. The OAR is the third largest delegation after the US and Canada and the 168-strong team could increase if CAS rules in their favour.


Lifestyle

Irish Examiner Sustainability Month special: Are retailers meeting customer expectations for sustainable products?

Making the most of Irish strawberries - Michelle Darmody shares her recipes

Making Cents: Help protect the planet and occupy the kids

Good Omens and great expectations

More From The Irish Examiner