The bonus scheme for athletes prevented from competing at Rio 2016 was announced by Russia's Prime Minister (right) ©Getty Images

Russian athletes who were banned from competing at Rio 2016 will be given bonuses by the Foundation for the Support of Russian Olympians because they would have made a "significant contribution" to the nation's medal count had they been allowed to represent the country at the Games, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced today.

Medvedev revealed that the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) would be given the funds by the Foundation to distribute to those who were barred from taking part at the Olympics as a result of the ongoing doping scandal hanging over the country.

He again criticised the decision to ban swathes of Russians from the Games as "unfair" and heralded those who were cleared to compete as succeeding in "extremely complicated circumstances" and while under "unprecedented pressure".

Russia returned from Rio 2016 with a total haul of 56 medals - 19 golds, 18 silvers and 19 bronze - compared with the 77 they managed to claim at London 2012.

Their team at the Games in the Brazilian city was cut from its original number of 389 to 271 after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board opted to defer the extent of Russian participation to the International Federations.

This followed the publication of the McLaren Report, which revealed a state-sponsored doping scheme within Russian sport.

Sixty-seven track and field athletes were prohibited from competing, with long jumper Darya Klishina the sole Russian representative in the sport.

Klishina nearly missed out, however, as she was withdrawn from the competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who had received "new information" relating to the 25-year-old in connection with the McLaren Report.

She was eventually given the green light following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after initially being cleared due to being based in Florida, and therefore supposedly outside of the Russian system.

Dmitry Medvedev also rewarded Russian medallists from Rio 2016 with brand-new BMWs ©Getty Images
Dmitry Medvedev also rewarded Russian medallists from Rio 2016 with brand-new BMWs ©Getty Images

The entire Russian weightlifting team was also banned, while competitors from the scandal-hit nation were prevented from competing in other sports such as rowing, swimming and canoeing.

"The foundation will transfer funds to the Russian Olympic Committee to provide financial assistance to our leading athletes, members of our national track and field team banned from the Games by the IOC," Medvedev said according to news agency TASS.

"We believe that will be the right decision.

"We have no doubt that, but for this unfair decision [to ban athletes from competitions], they would have succeeded making a significant contribution to our total medals count."

Medvedev was speaking at an event where he met the Russian Olympians who represented the country at Rio 2016.

The Prime Minister then handed medallists keys to brand-new off-road BMW cars.

Gold medallists were given luxury BMX X6s, while those who earned silver were handed X5s and athletes who won bronze walked away with X3s.

"This is so superb that you took our country to the fourth place in the overall medal standings having repeated the result of the [2012] Olympic Games in London," Medvedev said.

"Moreover, you have achieved this result under extremely complicated circumstances and amid an unprecedented pressure, which was exerted on our national team, on our whole sports society and on our country on the whole.

"No matter how hard some people tried, but they failed to foil the Olympics for Russia and you have managed to prove that our victories have nothing to do with doping or other sins, which some people periodically attempt to attribute to us."