The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday said it agreed with the Rio Olympic ban handed down to Russia’s track and field team but opened the door for some Russian track and field athletes to compete — under their country’s flag — if they are given an exemption by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport’s governing body. But the IAAF, which upheld its ban on Russia’s track and field team Friday, quickly told CNN that it will not accept any appeals from individual members of the Russian team, which means the Court of Arbitration for Sport is the only avenue left for the athletes if they want to compete in Rio.
The IAAF previously had said that in the unlikely case that a Russian track and field athlete was approved to compete in Rio, he or she could not compete under the Russian flag.
In addition, the IOC announced Tuesday that every Russian athlete — no matter the sport — who wishes to compete in Rio must be approved by their sport’s international governing body using independent drug-testing methods, above and beyond those employed by the Russian anti-doping agency, which is the subject of much speculation after numerous investigations have found wide-ranging, state-sponsored improprieties going back years.
The IOC said the same standard applies to all athletes from Kenya, which has been declared “non-compliant” with the drug-testing regulations handed down by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The stricter measures have been put in place, the IOC said, because it considers “the ‘presumption of innocence’ of athletes from these countries” to have been “put seriously into question.”
In response to the IOC announcement, Russian Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov told the TASS news agency that the country will not boycott the Rio Games. According to the Associated Press, Russian Olympic officials will ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to strike down the IAAF’s blanket Olympic ban on behalf of the Russian track and field athletes “who have never violated anti-doping rules.”
In a statement issued later Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Sport said it would accept any additional testing on its athletes:
“We respect the statement made today by the International Olympic Committee and fully support its zero tolerance approach to doping.
“We have long stated that individual athletes in Russia are willing to demonstrate their innocence and prove they are clean. Our Olympians are ready to go over and above all the normal anti-doping tests to show their commitment to clean and fair sport. For example, all track and field athletes had already agreed to undergo a minimum of three additional anti-doping controls carried out by the IAAF before the Olympic Games.
“We look forward to working closely with the International Federations to determine how to assess eligibility.”