The International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban the Russian Federation from the Rio Olympics is a blow to clean athletes everywhere.

The IOC's decision, less than two weeks before the Rio Games open, followed the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) call for a blanket ban in response to the independent McLaren report that found evidence of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Instead of heeding that call the committee offered Russian athletes a lifeline by ruling that decisions on individual competitors will be left to the international sports federations. Many view the move as an abdication of the committee's responsibility to protect the integrity of the Olympic Games.

Had it decided to banish Russia from the Rio Olympics, the committee would have sent a clear message that doping would not be tolerated. It shrank from the task on the grounds that it would have been unfair on individuals or teams that might be innocent.


This has to be viewed against the scale of the offending uncovered in the report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency which revealed that Russia's sports ministry was involved in the manipulation of urine samples provided by Russian athletes between 2011 and 2015.

The report found 580 positive tests were covered up across 30 sports during that time, which includes the Games in London 2012 and Sochi 2014. It also claims that Russia decided to cheat after the "very abysmal" medal count of 15 at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and began making positive drug tests disappear from its anti-doping laboratories in late 2011. This was state sanctioned doping at its worst and it needed to be condemned in the strongest possible way. The IOC failed to do so.

Now spectators will rightfully question whether they can believe the athletic achievements on display. Clean athletes will question whether they are competing on a level playing field and a giant question mark will hang over the podium whenever a Russian athlete accepts a medal. The IOC failed to stand up for the ideals of the Olympic movement.