Russian Doping: Olympics Dream In The Balance

CNN/ Newswire | 7/20/2016, 8:49 a.m.
It's one of the traditional powerhouses of Olympic sport, but Russia's place at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro ...

James Masters


(CNN) -- It's one of the traditional powerhouses of Olympic sport, but Russia's place at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro hangs in the balance over allegations of "state-sponsored doping."

Just 24 hours after the International Olympic Committee was told it should consider banning Russian athletes from the Rio Games, the tournament's governing body said it would be "exploring legal options" over such a move.

Russia came fourth in the medal table at the 2012 Games and the absence of the nation's athletes at Rio would hark back to the Cold War era when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and the then Soviet Union snubbed the Los Angeles Games four years later.

A ban is being considered after Russia was accused Monday of "a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games" following an independent World Anti-Doping Agency commissioned report.

IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement that his organization "will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated."

The Russian track and field team has already been banned -- but that decision is contested at the Court of Arbitration for Sport with a decision likely to be announced by the end of the week.

And with just 17 days until the Games get underway in Rio, the IOC doesn't have time on its side.

Will Russia compete at the Olympics?

Russia's athletes face a nervous wait to see if a blanket ban will be imposed with the IOC announcing it will retest all of its athletes which competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

That's because an independent report published by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren found urine samples of Russian competitors were manipulated across the "vast majority" of summer and winter Olympic sports from 2011 through to August 2015.

Russia came top of the medal table at Sochi -- winning 33 medals, 13 of them gold.

But McLaren concluded Russia's "Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete's analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories."

The FSB is Russia's federal security service while the CSP is involved in the training of Russian athletes.

Meanwhile, in a statement Monday, WADA called on "the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee to consider, under their respective charters, to decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the Russian Paralympic Committee."

The Russian track and field team has already been barred by from competing in the 2016 Games by the International Association of Athletics Federation -- or the IAAF as its known for short.

Around 80 athletes have filed petitions to compete under the Olympic flag.

What is the IOC doing?

On Tuesday the IOC revealed a whole list of steps it was taking against Russia including whether it can issue a collective ban of all the nation's athletes.