International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach that the IOC is not in a position to sanction heads of state in any given country after he was asked why Russian officials, including Vladimir Putin, who have denied they are responsible for state-sponsored doping were not criticized.

Bach tried to distance himself from Russia and claimed the priority of IOC is to shed full light and get to the bottom of allegations that represent an attack on everything we want to represent. The conclusions of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report have been repeatedly dismissed by officials downwards from the level of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian officials also claimed doping allegations against Russia and its athletes were “politically motivated”.

The IOC President claimed that IOC had acted tough and said Russian Sports Ministry officials had been barred from attending Rio 2016, including Minister Vitaly Mutko. However, Bach remarked the IOC is not in a position to sanction heads of state in any given country. Bach was responding to a question from Hajo Seppelt, the German journalist who first made the allegations against Russian doping in athletics that then led to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) launching the Independent Commission that found state-supported doping evidence. Bach also remarked we have seen the report of Richard McClaren about the manipulation of anti-doping tests and samples in Russia and commented the rest of our work has to follow, the allegations that the Russian Ministers of Sport orchestrated such a system and the report revealed a system. Bach went on to remark if this was applied like this in Russia, this is an attack on everything we want to represent and our values.

Russian sports minister has remained in his position, despite being effectively named as the mastermind of the scheme along with his deputy, Yuri Nagornykh. The McLaren Report since its publication has been dismissed by Russian politicians, sporting officials, athletes, and media.

Thomas Bach has maintained a close relationship with the Russian head of state in the build-up to Sochi 2014 after he was among the first to phone and offer congratulations when he was elected as the President in 2013. Critics claim that many of the recent decisions of the IOC President have been influenced by his desire to maintain these relations. Bach refuted these claims and claimed he has not spoken to any Russian Government official since the publication of the McClaren Report and not even in the days or weeks preceding it.

Speaking during a recently-concluded IOC session, Bach remarked this blanket ban of the Russian Olympic Committee has been called by some the ‘nuclear option and the innocent athletes would have to be considered as ‘collateral damage.’ The IOC managed to stand tall against recommendations of the World Anti-Doping Agency to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics. Bach reacted by saying the Olympic Movement stands for life and the construction of a better future and this vision of a better future for and through sport is what needs to guide us. The IOC chief also remarked this vision includes a more robust and efficient worldwide anti-doping system. Bach also remarked engagement, not isolation, is the key, to build a functioning and more robust world-anti doping system and remarked this painful situation can become a moment of catharsis in the fight against doping if we all contribute in this spirit.

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