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Russian team finalised for Olympic Games

NZN 4/08/2016 By Steve Larkin

A total of 271 Russian athletes will compete in Rio as the International Olympic Committee again defends its response to the country's doping scandal.

On the eve of the Games' opening ceremony, the final number means 109 Russians initially named for the Olympics have been banned.

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov says 271 of his country's athletes have been cleared to compete.

"The majority of the sports have been admitted in full," Zhukov told reporters on Thursday.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach repeated his defence of the handling of a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren detailing evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia.

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 told reporters on Thursday.

"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."

Bach described the IOC's decision as a "decision of justice".

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