WADA President Sir Craig Reedie has backed an IAAF proposal to allow Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

World Anti-Doping Agency President Sir Craig Reedie has backed the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) stance that any Russian athletes allowed to compete in this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro should do so only under a neutral flag.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) claim they would have to represent Russia because there is nothing in the rules to allow them to take part for anyone else.

Sir Craig, a vice-president of the IOC, has taken the side of the IAAF.

“WADA reiterates its support for the IAAF’s proposed rule amendment enabling Russian athletes to apply for eligibility, on an exceptional basis and subject to meeting strict criteria - in particular having been subjected to credible doping programmes outside Russia - to compete in international competitions, including the Olympic Games, in an individual capacity as neutral athletes,” the Briton said.

The IAAF are keen for neutral participation primarily in order to find a way for Yulia Stepanova to compete.

Stepanova is the former doping cheat who turned whistleblower and made the allegations which led to the IAAF suspending Russia from international competition.

Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov has already said she not be selected to compete under the Russian flag after she has been accused there of making slanderous and traitorous allegations.

Image title
The IAAF and WADA both support letting Yulia Stepanova, formerly known as Rusanova, being allowed to compete as a neutral athlete at Rio 2016 but Russia opposed the plan ©Getty Images

"WADA also restates its support for the IAAF Taskforce’s recommendation to favourably consider the request of whistleblower, Yulia Stepanova, to compete as an independent athlete," said Sir Craig. 

There remains suspicions after yesterday's Olympic Summit in Lausanne that IOC President Thomas Bach, who has a close relationship with Russian Vladimir Putin, is trying to engineer an situation that would allow that country's athletes to compete at Rio 2016. 

Sir Craig, though, has warned that there still needs to be a fundamental shift in Russia's attitude towards dealing with doping before they can be welcomed back into the international arena.

“The IAAF Taskforce report was clear - a significant culture change is required among Russian athletes, athlete support personnel, Government and sport leaders,” he said.

“It is essential that tough measures be enforced to ensure that those involved understand the gravity of not embracing clean sport.

"Until the required cultural changes in Russia is well advanced through strong education and prevention programs; supported by independent doping control and robust compliance programs; WADA cannot assure clean athletes of the world that it is reforming.”

IOC President Thomas Bach has claimed that any Russian athletes who compete at Rio 2016 must do so under that country's flag and not as neutrals because the rules do not allow it ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach has claimed that any Russian athletes who compete at Rio 2016 must do so under that country's flag and not as neutrals because the rules do not allow it ©Getty Images

Sir Craig also warned that further damning evidence about the scale of state-supported doping in Russia could be uncovered in a report currently being prepared by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren following allegations of cover-ups during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“WADA awaits the results of its independent McLaren Investigation, which was formed on 18 May and is examining further allegations of doping in Russia,” he said.

“As captured within the IAAF Taskforce report, Professor McLaren advised the Taskforce of his preliminary findings that there is sufficient corrborated evidence to confirm….a mandatory state-directed manipulation of laboratory analytical results operating within the Moscow-accredited laboratory from at least 2011 forward including the period of the IAAF World Championships in 2013.

"We will see what evidence is exposed via the Investigation in terms of the scale of a state-directed doping programme and the sports involved.

"If involvement of the state is clearly established, then sports authorities must collectively respond, in an uncompromised fashion; and, ensure that the necessary consequences are put in place to protect clean sport.”

The full McLaren Investigation Report is to be delivered to Sir Craig by July 15 and published in full within five days of receipt. 

More follows