Special Panel to Decide Eligibility of Russian Olympic Athletes

VOA News

The IOC’s executive board announced the move Saturday in its final regular meeting before opening ceremonies.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the panel would rule on the eligibility of Russian athletes cleared of doping accusations by individual sports federations and approved by an independent arbitrator. He also said all decisions would be made before the start of the games.

Saturday’s announcement capped nearly two weeks of Olympic upheaval sparked by a call from the World Anti-Doping Agency to ban all Russian athletes from the games.

Those WADA recommendations accompanied the release of a scathing independent report citing widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The IOC last week rejected calls for a collective ban, with IOC President Thomas Bach limiting penalties to individual athletes found by individual athletic federations to be tainted by doping allegations.

«At the end of the day, you have to be able to look into the eyes of the individual athlete concerned by your decision,» Bach said.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko voiced relief at the IOC decision against a countrywide ban, while again insisting there was no government complicity in any doping schemes.