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Russian athletes numbers known soon: IOC

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/08/2016 Steve Larkin

The International Olympic Committee finally knows how many Russians have been cleared to compete in Rio - but can't yet release the number publicly.

On the eve of the opening ceremony of the Rio Games, between 272 and 280 Russians are believed to have been deemed eligible to compete.

But IOC president Thomas Bach says he's unable to yet release the exact number, but hopes to later Thursday.

"We need to inform first the international federations of the athletes and the NOC (National Olympic Committees) concerned before we can publish the final results," Bach told reporters on Thursday.

"This procedure is underway and once it has completed then the panel will publish its findings to everybody.

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov has said about 270 Russian athletes have been cleared and "now we need to do the updated counting".

Bach again defended the IOC's handling of the Russian crisis after an independent report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren found evidence of state sponsored doping in the country.

The IOC decided against a blanket ban of the Russian team, instead leaving it to sporting federations to clear or ban individual athletes.

The Olympic body also established a three-member panel to make final determinations.

Bach said he could look every athlete - clean and banned - in the eye with "a very clean conscience".

"I know that not only I but also all the (IOC) executive board members have weighed all these arguments very carefully - and we also know that we have the support of many, many athletes," he said.

"There are good arguments on both sides and you cannot expect to have 100 per cent support. There is no way for this, there are too many arguments and there is also too much passion.

"And we also do not have all the facts yet available, the McLaren report is not yet finalised, our own inquiry is not yet finalised.

"So I respect every athlete who may feel disappointed, who may have another opinion.

"But I can look straight forward into his eyes or her eyes because, again, we have weighed all the arguments and we have taken our decision with a very good conscience."

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