Thomas Bach has defended the International Olympic Committee’s approach to the Russian doping problem, even though the final Winter Olympics participants will not be confirmed until hours before Friday’s opening ceremony.
The court of arbitration for sport will make decisions, either on Thursday evening or Friday morning, over whether the IOC must invite 47 athletes to compete in Pyeongchang. The 23rd Winter Games open on Friday evening.
Bach insisted the IOC has dealt with the issue as best it can and the organisation’s president insists the IOC, Cas and the World Anti-Doping Agency will convene to ensure a repeat of the chaotic build-up to a second successive Olympics, after Rio 2016, will not be repeated.
He said: “The timing there was not in our hands. Studies had to be done, evidence had to be provided, fair hearings for the Russian athletes had to be offered.”
Bach insisted the IOC could not act solely on the damning findings of systemic doping by Russians at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics alone as any disciplinary action resulting from the McLaren Report would not have been successful.
He declined to speculate on the outcome of the Cas hearings, but expects the Cas president, John Coates, and his Wada equivalent Craig Reedie to discuss the way forwards.
“We’re very pleased that the president of Cas yesterday made the offer to have a round table forum with stakeholders to see what they need to do,” Bach said. “And the president of Wada has also made it clear that also Wada will look into these matters.
“Hopefully soon we can have a strengthened system in anti-doping, as far as the IOC and international federations are concerned (so) we have a strengthened system which allows us to protect our values.”
Cas announced on Wednesday that the case of 32 Russians had been adjourned. And when the panel reconvenes at the ad hoc division of Cas to hear the case on Thursday, it will also consider a new case involving 15 additional athletes.