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Push by US and other Western powers coincides with NATO expansion closer to Russian border.
The International Olympic Committee announced Sunday that it would not ban all Russian athletes from competing in next month's Rio Olympics as a result of allegations of widespread doping. Rather, the IOC ruled, the athletes sports federations can determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis.
In a statement, the IOC said that it considered as tainted “all Russian athletes seeking entry to the Olympic Games Rio 2016. But the officials stopped short of completely barring the entire Russian delegation, as the US and other Western powers have urged.
“This may not please everybody on either side,” said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. “But still the result today is one which is respecting the rules of justice.”
The IOC decision follows the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) call for a blanket ban in response to the independent McLaren report that found evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
With the Rio Games' Aug. 5 opening ceremony less than two weeks away, the world governing body's ruling 15-member executive board met Sunday via teleconference, and decided that responsibility for ruling on the eligibility of Russians remains with the international federations.
The IOC had said that disciplinary proceedings would be opened against Russian officials cited in the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) McLaren report on Monday.
That report, produced by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, described a campaign of doping and cover-ups over a span of time that centers on the Sochi Winter Olympics hosted by Russia in 2014.
The IOC said this week that it would not organise or give patronage to any sports event in Russia, including the planned 2019 European Games, and that no member of the Russian Sports Ministry implicated in the report would be accredited for Rio.
It had also ordered the immediate re-testing of all Russian athletes from the Sochi Olympics, as well as a full inquiry into the alleged doping cover-ups, instructing all international winter sports federations to halt preparations for major events in Russia.
Since then a series of international sports federations, anti-doping agencies and athletes have called for a blanket ban of all sports at Rio, though some have said they are against punishing innocent athletes.
Russian officials and government officers have said the doping allegations are part of a Western conspiracy against their country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had warned that the affair could split the Olympic movement, bringing echoes of the 1980s when the United States led a political boycott of the Moscow Games of 1980 and the Soviet Union led an Eastern Bloc boycott of the Los Angeles Games four years later.