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Bach thinks Russia will do what is needed ahead of Rio Games

/ 06:28 PM November 11, 2015
 In this Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 file photo, IOC president Thomas Bach, right, shakes hands with IAAF president Lamine Diack during a joint IOC and IAAF press conference on the side of the World Athletic Championships in Beijing. AP

In this Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 file photo, IOC president Thomas Bach, right, shakes hands with IAAF president Lamine Diack during a joint IOC and IAAF press conference on the side of the World Athletic Championships in Beijing. AP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand—International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach says he believes Russia will take 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 television on Wednesday, Bach refused to be drawn on whether the IOC would support calls for Russia’s athletics team to be excluded from the games as recommended by a World Anti-Doping Agency commission which found evidence of state-sponsored cheating in Russia.

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Bach said the issue—which he described as a “malfunctioning of a country”—was now in the hands of the International Association of Athletics Federation.

“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.”

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WADA’s independent commission called for Russia’s athletics federation to be suspended, citing evidence of corruption and collusion of Russian officials in covering up positive doping tests. The commission said Russian athletes should only be allowed to compete again once the country is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

Pressed on whether Russian athletes should be banned from the games in 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 offenses found in Russia were only a part of much wider corruption in world athletics.

“Again, this is speculation,” he said. “We should not take clean athletes into suspicion.”

Bach said WADA, which represents 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,” he said.

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“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 added.

Bach noted that the IOC has 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 in the WADA report.

“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.

“So the IOC will do everything it can there to support the responsible international federations in their efforts to clean up athletics.”

Bach was interviewed by New Zealand’s TV3 in Lausanne after the New Zealand Olympic Committee was awarded the IOC’s women in sport world trophy.

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