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Russians, Kenyans to face evaluation for Rio Games spots

IOC President Bach attends a news conference in Lausanne

Any competitor from Russia or Kenya wishing to take part in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will need to be individually evaluated against doping and declared eligible by their sport’s international federation, Olympic chief Thomas Bach said on Tuesday.

The special measure is being introduced because of the unsatisfactory state of anti-doping bodies in the two countries, which Bach said put “very serious doubts on the presumption of innocence”.

Russian track and field athletes remain suspended from Rio after the IOC offered “respect, approval and support” for a blanket ban on them – extended on Friday by world athletics’ governing body – for systemic doping.

But Bach, speaking at the end of a doping summit, gave a limited number of the Russian athletes a chance to race for their country in Brazil despite a ban.

He said any Russian athlete cleared by the world athletics body IAAF or the Court of Arbitration for Sport as clean and eligible would compete under the Russian flag.

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) chief Aleksander Zhukov, meanwhile, said clean Russian athletes would appeal the “legally indefensible” ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Any athletes who succeed in their appeal would compete under the Russian flag, Bach said, not an Olympic or neutral one.

“The position is very clear: we respect this (IAAF) decision. We advised today that athletes and/or the ROC may appeal,” Bach said. “This is the good right of everybody. We expect the results of these potential court cases.”

“If there are (Russian) athletes qualified then they will compete as members of the Russian Olympic Committee team,” Bach told reporters at the end of an extraordinary summit.

The decision is expected to somewhat appease the Russians, who were unhappy with the ban of their track and field athletes by the IAAF from the world’s biggest multi-sport event.

Bach also said the summit, including sports federations and Olympic committees, had decided to fully review the anti-doping system, calling on World Anti-doping Agency to hold a global conference next year.

The IAAF suspended Russia last year over concerns its athletes were guilty of systematic doping and upheld the ban last week.

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