The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has postponed a decision on Russia’s participation at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro until the end of the week, but is exploring legal options over a possible total ban.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said yesterday that Russia should be banned from all international competitions, including Rio 2016, until they achieved a "culture change".
This followed the release of Richard McLaren's Independent Commission report here into alleged state-sponsored doping during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as in competitions in summer sports.
The report showed the Sports Ministry "directed, controlled and oversaw" a "unique" method of sample manipulation at Sochi 2014, involving a sample-swapping method where they were able to open and reseal tamper-proof bottles.
Thirty sports are alleged to have been implicated in the swapping of samples to conceal positive tests, including summer ones not normally linked with doping like sailing, taekwondo and table tennis, as well as Paralympic sports.
With regard to Russia's participation at Rio 2016, the IOC said it "will carefully evaluate" the McLaren Report following an emergency Executive Board meeting held today.
WADA President Sir Craig Reedie, an IOC member, was told by IOC President Thomas Bach to excuse himself from the meeting due to a "conflict of interest".
Russia has already been banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) due to doping exposed last year.
An appeal on this will be heard today at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with a verdict set to be reached by Thursday (July 21).
"The IOC will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice," an IOC statement said.
"In this respect, the IOC will have to take the CAS decision on July 21, 2016 concerning the IAAF rules into consideration, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Charter."
Citing the urgency of the matter, the Executive Board has already taken provisional measures.
The IOC will not "organise or give patronage" to any sports event or meeting in Russia, including plans for the 2019 European Games organised by the European Olympic Committees (EOC).
This will come as a major blow to EOC President Patrick Hickey, whose dream of preserving the European Games rests on persuading Russia, effectively their only option, to host the 2019 edition.
The IOC will also not grant Rio 2016 accreditation to any official of the Russian Sports Ministry or any person implicated in the McLaren Report.
Due to the detailed references to the manipulation of samples during Sochi 2014, the body will also ask all International Olympic Winter Sports Federations to freeze their preparations for major events in Russia, such as World Championships, World Cups or other major international competitions under their responsibility, and to actively look for alternative organisers.
Major winter events coming up in Russia include this year's World Mixed Curling Championships in Kazan and the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Championships in Sochi next year.
All International Federations (IFs) have been asked to carry out a full inquiry and, in case of any infringements of the World Anti-Doping Code, issue sanctions against Russian National Federations.
These provisional measures apply until December 31 and will be reviewed by the IOC Executive Board at its meeting earlier that month.
Furthermore, the Executive Board has reiterated and spoke of its support for the measure announced by the Olympic Summit last month to reverse the "presumption of innocence" of athletes from Russia with regard to doping.
This means that in the event a blanket ban is not enforced, the eligibility of each Russian athlete will have to be decided by his or her IF based on an individual analysis of his or her international anti-doping record.
The IOC has therefore called on WADA to extend the mandate of McLaren to communicate the names of Russian athletes implicated in the report and the alleged manipulation of the doping tests performed by the Sochi Laboratory to the respective IFs and, where appropriate, to the IOC, in order to "allow them to take swift action".
The Executive Board has today started disciplinary proceedings related to the involvement of officials within the Russian Sports Ministry and other persons mentioned in the report because of "violations of the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code".
In an attempt to accelerate this procedure, a Disciplinary Commission has been established, chaired by Guy Canivet - the current vice-chair of the IOC Ethics Commission and former member of the French Constitutional Court.
Among those also appointed are Robin Mitchell, vice-chair of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission and member of the IOC Ethics Commission, Yang Yang, athletes’ representative on the IOC Ethics Commission, and Andrew Ryan, executive director of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which today hinted its opposition to a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing at Rio 2016.
Completing the five-strong Disciplinary Commission is Wolfgang Schobersberger, representative of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations and member of the International Ski Federation Medical Commission.
The IOC, whose President Bach has already indicated his opposition to any blanket ban, described the findings of the McLaren report as a "shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games" and said it "will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated".
The report by McLaren confirmed and elaborated on the allegations of former Moscow Laboratory chief Grigory Rodchenkov.
It revealed the system put in place by the Russian State extended far beyond Sochi 2014, including London 2012, the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow and the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan.
McLaren also claimed it was "inconceivable" Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was not aware of the programme, while his now suspended deputy Yuri Nagornykh was found to have ordered the collection of clean urine samples.