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‘Serious’ doubts over Russian, Kenyan athletes – IOC chief

Lausanne, Switzerland | AFP |

Deficiencies in the anti-doping systems in Russia and Kenya have created doubts about the presumption of innocence for athletes from both countries, the Olympics chief said Tuesday.

“Because of the (World Anti-Doping Agency) non-compliance declaration of Kenya and Russia and the related substantial allegations, the Olympic Summit considers the ‘presumption of innocence’ of athletes from these countries being put seriously into question,” International Olympics Committee chief Thomas Bach said in a statement.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Friday voted to uphold Russia’s suspension, first imposed in November after a WADA report unveiled state-sponsored doping and widespread corruption in Russian athletics.

Similarly, Kenya has come under the IAAF and WADA spotlight over its flagging anti-doping control system, necessitating changes to legislation to avoid exclusion of its world-beating distance runners from August’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“As a result, every IF (international federation) should take a decision on the eligibility of such athletes on an individual basis to ensure a level playing field in their sport,” Bach continued in a stark warning.

“In this decision-making process, the absence of a positive national anti-doping test should not be considered sufficient by the IFs. This means that the respective IF should take into account other reliable adequate testing systems in addition to national anti-doping testing.

“This decision about the ‘level playing field’ in each of their very different Olympic sports, and eligibility, including of their member National Federations, should be taken by each IF taking into account all the specific circumstances in the relevant National Federations, any available evidence, the World Anti-Doping Code and the specific rules of their sport.”

Bach added that Russian athletes who pass an individual test by the IAAF would compete under their nation’s flag at the Rio Games.

“If there are athletes qualified then they will compete as members of the team of the Russian Olympic Committee,” Bach told reporters.

Bach dismissed suggestions that Russian track and field stars could compete under a neutral or Olympic flag, as had been suggested when the IAAF extended its ban on Friday.

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