Russia Won’t Be Fully Banned From Olympics For Doping Scandal, IOC Decides

Russia faces heavy sanctions after being implicated in a widespread doping scandal, but it has avoided the ultimate punishment.

The International Olympic Committee announced Sunday it won’t completely ban all Russian athletes from participating in the 2016 Olympics, which begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro.

The country faced the possibility of a complete ban after the World Anti-Doping Agency released a report Monday confirming Russian authorities played a direct role in a massive cover-up of their athletes’ use of performance-enhancing drugs. While every Russian athlete won’t automatically be banned from the 2016 games, each participant will undergo a strict vetting process, and Olympic federations have the authority to deny them from competing if they don’t pass muster.

Russia’s entire track and field team already is banned from the Olympics, and any Russian athlete who previously has been sanctioned for doping won’t be able to compete.

“We have set the bar to the limit by establishing a number of very strict criteria which every Russian athlete will have to fulfil if he or she wants to participate in the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Sunday, via BBC.com. “I think in this way, we have balanced on the one hand, the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete.”

The IOC also denied the bid of Russian track athlete Yulia Stepanova to compete in Rio as a “neutral athlete.” Stepanova was the whistleblower who helped bring her country’s massive doping system to light.

Thumbnail photo via Thomas B. Shea/USA TODAY Sports Images

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