International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach believes Russia will take the necessary steps to ensure it complies with global anti-doping rules in time to allow its track and field athletes to compete at next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In an interview with New Zealand’s TV3 in Lausanne on Wednesday, Bach refused to be drawn on whether the IOC would support calls for Russia’s athletics team to be excluded from Rio, as recommended by an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),which found evidence of state-supported cheating in Russia.
Bach said the issue, which he described as a “malfunctioning of a country”, was in the hands of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“The international federation will draw its conclusion and will take the necessary measures,” Bach said.
“We’re convinced the new (IAAF) president, Sebastian Coe, will do whatever is necessary and we think also that Russia will cooperate to make progress and to make sure that Russian athletics is compliant with WADA, and this is what it needs to be in order to participate in the Olympic Games.”
WADA’s independent commission called for Russia’s athletics federation to be suspended, citing evidence of corruption and collusion of the country’s officials in covering up positive doping tests.
The commission said Russian athletes should only be allowed to compete again once the country was fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.
Pressed on whether Russian athletes should be banned from Rio, Bach said: “I will not speculate on this. Now we have this inquiry about athletics.”
Bach also refused to be drawn on whether the offences were part of much wider corruption in world athletics.
“Again, this is speculation. We should not take clean athletes into suspicion,” he said.
Bach said WADA, representing the Olympic movement and world governments, is leading the anti-doping campaign and deciding which countries are compliant or not.
“We should have confidence in the work of WADA as we are now having confidence in this report of the WADA commission.
“We have obviously a malfunctioning in a country, maybe, and in an international federation coming together but we should not forget that WADA and the IOC and many international federations have established a very tight net of anti-doping measures.”
Bach noted the IOC had provisionally suspended former IAAF president Lamine Diack as an honorary member.
Diack is under criminal investigation in France on charges of corruption and money-laundering, accused of taking money to cover up positive doping cases in Russia.
The IOC also urged the IAAF to start disciplinary action against Russian athletes, coaches and officials accused of doping.
“We have made it clear that we will, once we get the relevant information from IAAF, withdraw and reallocate medals with regard to Russian athletes which may have been doped,” Bach said.
“We have also made it clear that if officials or coaches have been involved that they will be banned from future games.”
That news will be welcomed by Australian walker Jared Tallent, who finished second in the 50-kilometre walk at the London Olympics in 2012 behind Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin, one of several high-profile athletes the independent report referenced.
Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko said calls for Russia to be excluded from the 2016 Olympic Games over doping allegations were an attempt to tarnish the country’s image.
“This possibility exists because some benefit from removing a direct competitor, and others benefit from soiling the country’s image,” Mr Mutko told RIA Novosti state news agency.