International Olympic Committee Decides Not To Ban Russian Team : The Torch Instead, the IOC has called on sports federations to carry out assessments on individual athletes to determine whether they can compete, amid state-sponsored doping allegations.

International Olympic Committee Decides Not To Ban Russian Team

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


The International Olympic Committee is stopping short of a blanket ban on all Russian athletes from competing at next month's games in Rio. But the committee said Russian athletes do bear, quote, "collective responsibility" for a state-sponsored doping program. And now they'll have to meet some tough conditions if they do want to compete. NPR's Corey Flintoff joins us now from Moscow. Corey, what are those conditions?

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Well, one is that the individual athletic federations for each one of these sports will make the call on whether the Russian athletes can compete. You know, so for instance, the International Weightlifting Federation or the International Swimming Federation or tennis would decide on an individual basis who could who could go to Rio. Another condition is that no athlete can participate if they've ever served a suspension for doping. Those who are cleared to compete will be subject to extra-intensive drug testing.

HU: So how will this decision play with some of the global anti-doping organizations, which had said that the entire Russian squad should be banned because the Russian government ran a program to help athletes cheat?

FLINTOFF: Well, as you know, for instance, the World Anti-Doping Agency called for a blanket ban. So did the Russian - the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. They said Russian cheating hurt clean athletes all over the world, you know. So why should clean athletes in Russia get a pass? Some athletic federations have said they'd ban some Russian competitors in their sports, especially those sports that have had a lot of doping problems, for instance, weightlifting. Others, likes swimming, have said that they oppose a blanket ban.

HU: How do some of those specific sanctions that you laid out, like the ban on athletes who've served suspensions previously for doping - how does that play out for one of the main whistleblowers?

FLINTOFF: Well, one of the main whistleblowers was a Russian runner named Yulia Stepanova, who came forward after she had served a suspension for doping. She won't be able to compete. And, you know, one of the reporters at the news conference today asked, well, what kind of message does that send to athletic whistleblowers? And Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said, we intend to support her. We intend to invite her to the Olympics as our guest, and we meant to make it clear that, you know, we support what she did.

HU: And finally, only is there enough time for Russian athletes and their federations to go through all these new steps?

FLINTOFF: Well, that's a good question. Thomas Bach said there is enough time. He said that, you know, many of these athletic federations have already been working on the problem. You know, they know the athletes that they're dealing with from Russia. In many cases, they already know their drug testing histories. And, you know, they're in a good position to make decisions rather quickly.

You know, the other thing is that this is something that separates out an argument that the Russians have been making for a long time, you know, that clean athletes in Russia were being cheated of their chances to compete. Now that argument will no longer hold water. And I think that's going to going to make for a very interesting continuing story as we go along.

HU: Indeed. That's NPR's Corey Flintoff in Moscow. Corey, thanks.

FLINTOFF: Great. Thank you.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.