They were searching for a way not to throw Russia out of the Olympics - and they found one, dumping the decision on the individual sports and banning a Russian whistleblower while also inviting her to Rio as a special guest. The white flag of capitulation flies over the International Olympic Committee.
Russia's deep political reach should have told us this would happen. The buddy-act between Vladimir Putin and the IOC president, Thomas Bach, is indicative of a much greater distortion in world sport, which the Russians have used to their advantage.
External pressure to do with global politics and sport's utter subservience to money was always going to shape the IOC's thinking when it came to the era-defining decision on whether to cast Russia out.
In the end they came up with a feeble compromise, dropping moral responsibility from a great height on individual federations, who have 12 days to run through the legal minefield of considering each Russian case. Many will lack the staff, legal-back up and resolve to deal with this legal landslide before the Rio opening ceremony.
Hiding behind the right of individual athletes not to be lumbered with collective responsibility for a state sponsored doping programme, the IOC want us to believe they have defended due process against the mob.
They have done nothing of the sort - and the clue is Yuliya Stepanova, who turned whistleblower on doping in Russian track and field but has been told she cannot compete in Rio, unlike dozens of other cheats who will hope that stressed international federations run out of time to properly decide their faith.
There is some truth in the assertion that the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren's explosive report on systematic Russian doping has not been tested in court. It is a report rather than a court conviction. But this is not why the IOC delivered the monumental hospital pass of giving 27 federations less than a fortnight to sprint through complex individual cases, many of which could be subject to challenge by Russian athletes.
More Olympics news
IOC blasted for hypocrisy for non-ban on Russia
Australia boycott 'uninhabitable' athletes' village
New Zealand's Greatest Olympians - Number 12: Ian Ferguson
Dummies guide to the Olympics
The real reason is that the IOC backed away from Russian power and influence, and took a gamble on their global audience not backing away in turn in disgust. Again, Russia is not the only country where doping is widespread. It is, however, the only nation we know of where ministers, administrators, secret service agents, athletes and coaches have conspired to defraud international sport on a scale that makes the East German model of the 1970s look miniscule.
'State sponsored' is the phrase to keep in mind, because this is the element that moves a doping scandal to a different level; one where a whole country becomes complicit and therefore ineligible to compete. With their disingenuous emphasis on individual rights, the IOC hoped we would forget that Russian cheating appears to be a political policy, like road building or defence.
The contradictions are legion. Arbitrarily, the IOC have banned Russian athletes who have served a doping ban, "even of he or she has served a sanction," but will allow convicted cheats from other countries to line-up.
Imagine the Russian indignation if Justin Gatlin, say, were to win the 100m. How does Bach think he could defend such a random ruling against legal challenge from a Russian athlete who returned from a doping ban five years ago?
NZ representative on IOC Barry Maiser on Newstalk ZB's Early Edition
The whole judgment has the look of cop-out designed by people with only one real aim in mind: to keep Russia in the opening ceremony at Rio, and avoid a confrontation with Putin, whose implied threats and cosying-up to Bach has now paid dividends.
There is carrot as well as stick with Putin, whose country is a major backer of international events, and increased its financial contributions to Wada (the World Anti-Doping Agency) around the time the whistles started blowing. Wada's slowness to act on the earliest allegations helped compress the time frame in which the weekend's dubious judgments were made.
In this Double-Think world, the IOC refuses to allow a whistleblower to compete but would "like to express its appreciation for Mrs Stepanova's contribution to the fight against doping and to the integrity of sport."
Meanwhile it opens the door to probable cheats in Russia's 387-strong team who pass through the hurried sifting by the individual federations. This is a colossal failure of governance by the IOC, and lends further weight to the belief that world governing bodies are now detached from their obligation to govern, and cannot (or will not) control the vast deal making industries of which they are part.
But they are deluding themselves if they think public trust can withstand any scandal. The bond between spectator and spectacle is further weakened by this abrogation of duty.
Often the cry will go up in Rio, louder than ever: what are we watching, what kind of fraud of this?