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Anti-doping groups condemn IOC

Associated Press Associated Press 24/07/2016

The International Olympic Committee has been globally condemned as "spineless" and undermining clean athletes by rejecting calls for a complete ban on Russia at the Rio Games.

Citing the need to protect the rights of individual athletes, the IOC decided against the unprecedented step of excluding Russia's entire team despite revelations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups in 28 sports from 2011 to 2015.

The World Anti-Doping Agency says it's disappointed the IOC rejected its call for a blanket ban after investigators "exposed, beyond a reasonable doubt, a state-run doping program in Russia that seriously undermines the principles of clean sport."

While some national Olympic committees, including Australia's, supported the decision, WADA chief Olivier Niggli says it will "inevitably lead to ... lesser protection for clean athletes."

Reigning Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford said the IOC had failed to deliver a clear message of transparency and just left a "messy, grey area that doesn't help anyone."

"This is a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides," he said.

The IAAF had already banned Russia's track and field athletes from Rio, but the IOC has now left it to the 27 other international sports federations to decide whether Russian athletes can compete.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC had instead decided on "very tough criteria", including banning all Russian athletes who have ever had a doping violation and insisting only athletes who have passed tests conducted outside Russia can compete.

Asked whether the IOC was being soft on Russia, Bach said: "Read the decision. ... You can see how high we set the bar. This is not the end of the story but a preliminary decision that concerns Rio 2016."

But six-time Olympic track cycling champion Chris Hoy said the IOC had shirked its responsibilities.

"Surely IOC's job is to make crucial decisions rather than passing the buck," he tweeted.

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations described it as "a sad day for clean sport", while US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart said the IOC refused to take decisive leadership.

"The decision regarding Russian participation and the confusing mess left in its wake is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes," Tygart said.

Bach acknowledged the decision "might not please everybody", but was conscious of protecting innocent Russian athletes.

"An athlete should not suffer and should not be sanctioned for a system in which he was not implicated," Bach said.

Tygart, however, questioned why the IOC "would pass the baton to sports federations who may lack the adequate expertise or collective will to appropriately address the situation within the short window prior to the Games."

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov promised the IOC full co-operation with investigations and guaranteed "a complete and comprehensive restructuring of the Russian anti-doping system."

He issued a strong plea against a full ban.

"If you treat the cancer by cutting off the patient's head and killing him, do you consider this as a victory in the fight?"

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the majority of Russia's team complies with the IOC criteria, and estimated "80 per cent" of the team regularly undergoes international testing.

Calls for a complete ban on Russia intensified after Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer commissioned by WADA, issued a report accusing Russia's sports ministry of overseeing a vast doping program of its Olympic athletes.

McLaren's investigation affirmed allegations of manipulation of Russian urine samples at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and state-backed doping across a wide range of summer and winter sports.

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