Russia made a last-ditch bid to avoid a blanket ban at the Rio Games over state-run doping as a fresh batch of drug test failures from Beijing 2008 and London 2012 rocked the Olympics. However, as they launched a desperate rearguard action, the International Paralympic Federation (IPF) announced they were seeking a suspension which would sideline the Russians from the Paralympics in Rio in September.
The IOC’s executive board are to hold a conference call on Sunday to discuss barring Russia from the Olympics starting on August 5 over bombshell doping revelations.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday rejected an appeal by Russia’s track and field team against their suspension from Rio in a decision seen as a key indicator as the IOC debates whether to kick out the whole Russian team.
Russia is a sporting powerhouse whose absence from Rio would create the biggest crisis in decades for the Olympic movement and President Vladimir Putin launched a final push to avert a ban.
“The official position of the Russian authorities—the government, the president and all of us—is that in sport there is not and can be no place for doping,” Putin told government ministers.
The Kremlin strongman ordered officials to cooperate with the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency and Russia’s Olympic committee to establish an anti-doping commission.
He also picked an 81-year-old former national Olympic committee chief, Vitaly Smirnov, to head the new commission.
Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also intervened, urging IOC president Thomas Bach to spare clean athletes in a letter released by Match TV sports channel.
“For me the principle of collective punishment is unacceptable,” wrote 85-year-old Gorbachev, asking Bach to make a “just decision.”
Meanwhile, the IPC said that in light of this week’s McLaren report, it expected to announce a decision on whether or not it will suspend Russia in the week commencing August 1.
The IPC said they have been provided with the names of the Paralympic athletes associated with the 35 “disappearing positive samples” from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory which were highlighted in McLaren’s report.
They are also sending 19 samples from the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi for immediate further analysis, after they were identified as having been potentially doctored as part of a sample-swapping regime.
“The McLaren report revealed an unimaginable scale of institutionalised doping in Russian sport that was orchestrated at the highest level. McLaren’s findings are of serious concern for everyone committed to clean and honest sport,” said Philip Craven, the IPC president.
“With regard to NPC Russia, we have started proceedings to consider the suspension of their membership of the IPC.”
Against the backdrop of the current doping scandal engulfing Russia the IOC reported separately on Friday 45 new doping failures from the last two Games, bringing the total number of positive drug tests to 98 since a retesting programme was launched.
The IOC has reanalysed more than 1,200 samples, focusing on medal winners, in a bid to clean up the Olympics’ reputation.
It did not identify the athletes or their nationalities for legal reasons but said 30 positives came from Beijing, including 23 medal winners, and 15 from London.
The IOC is facing international pressure to act tough on Russia and ban the entire team over incendiary revelations of a state-run doping system that saw the country cheat its way to victory.
Fourteen national anti-doping agencies including the United States, Canada and Germany urged Bach to ban Russia from Rio in a joint letter on Thursday.
Moscow officials have slammed the CAS decision to reject its appeal against a ban from the world athletics body IAAF, blaming a broader political campaign by the West against Russia.
The suspension of the track and field team already means that stars like pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and hurdler Sergey Shubenkov will not be in Rio.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko—who has clung on despite the scandal—said Moscow hopes the IOC will defer to individual international sporting federations to decide whether other Russian squads can compete.
The CAS ruling came after an independent WADA report this week said Russia ran a “state-dictated failsafe system” of drug cheating in 30 sports at the 2014 Sochi Games and other major events.
The IAAF banned all of the Russian track and field team over allegations of state-sponsored doping but said athletes who prove they were not tainted by their country’s corrupt system could be cleared.
The IAAF has only permitted one Russian team member to compete in Rio as a neutral: US-based long jumper Darya Klishina.