Greg Rutherford calls IOC decision over Russia team for Rio ‘spineless’

• ‘I had a terrible feeling arms would be twisted,’ says Olympic champion
• ‘This is a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides’

Britain’s world and Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, led the condemnation of the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to issue a blanket ban on the Russia team for Rio, calling it “a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides”, and warning the IOC had thrown away the opportunity to make a clear statement of intent against those who cheat.

“I had a terrible feeling that arms would be twisted,” he told the Guardian. “We know the pros and the cons of a blanket ban, we know the risks of ‘collective justice’, but we also know the risk of not punishing a culture of doping that comes from the very top. I would say that the latter is a much greater threat to sport.”

The IOC ruling means Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in Rio if they can prove “to the full satisfaction of their international federation”, as well as the IOC and court of arbitration for sport, that they are demonstrably clean. But Rutherford believes the IOC has created an unseemly mess.

“We’ve certainly not been given a clear message of transparency and progress,” he added. “I would have almost been happier if the decision had been a bullish refusal to act in any way. But no, what we have now is a messy, grey area that doesn’t help anyone. This is a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides. It’s a decision without the strength of conviction to sever friendships and take action, or indeed the confidence to recommend against any ban at all.”

“The inconsistency is truly astonishing. Introducing a last-minute ban on Russian athletes who have served a doping ban whilst still allowing athletes from other countries with exactly the same record is like asking a starving man to say thank you for giving him a single grain of rice - it’s in theory the right thing to do, but it doesn’t help,” he added.

IOC decides not to ban Russia from Rio 2016: ‘They deserve chance to rebut allegations’ – audio

“If you’re going to make that move, make it with some conviction and reapply it across the board, or don’t make it at all.

“Don’t pass the baton to individual federations whilst knowing full well that they have neither the time nor resources to implement any action before the Games begin.”

Rutherford praised the International Association of Athletics Federations and its president, Sebastian Coe, for banning those Russian track and field athletes who could not prove they had been tested outside their country’s discredited anti-doping system. “I have to say I am proud of my own sport and it’s new leadership, for the proactive and strong stance taken a few weeks ago,” he said.

“Athletics set the right sentiment for a clean and believable sport. We’re not there, we may never get there – I am still very unhappy that many convicted cheats continue to compete – but without a consequence for institutional-level actions how on earth do we expect to make any progress?

“I also feel a little surprised that more athletes are not more vocal about this, especially those with a powerful voice in Olympic sport. I do understand, however, it’s 10 days before the games, and I must admit I was tempted to join them in keeping quiet, to only focus on my own performance and maintain positivity, but I feel too passionate about this.”

Giving her reaction to the IOC’s decision, marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, wrote: “A sad day for Clean Sport. A decision that shows the IOC’s primary concern is not to protect clean athletes, not to be able to look at THEM in the eye and promise they did all they could to ensure a level playing field.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a firmly-worded statement on Sunday night, expressing its disappointment that its initial recommendation – that all Russian entries to Rio 2016 were declined – was not acted upon.

Banned Russian athletes

“Wada is disappointed that the IOC did not heed Wada’s executive committee recommendations that were based on the outcomes of the McLaren Investigation and would have ensured a straight-forward, strong and harmonised approach,” said Sir Craig Reedie, its president.

“The McLaren Report exposed, beyond a reasonable doubt, a state-run doping program in Russia that seriously undermines the principles of clean sport embodied within the World Anti-Doping Code.”

The body’s director general, Olivier Niggli, also expressed his concern at the IOC’s decision. “While Wada fully respects the IOC’s autonomy to make decisions under the Olympic Charter, the approach taken and the criteria set forward will inevitably lead to a lack of harmonisation, potential challenges and lesser protection for clean athletes,” he said.


Exclusive by Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Russia’s Rio pleas go unheeded as PR offensive over doping ban fails
As the reality of Russia’s athletes being barred from the Olympics hit home, defiance gave way to apologies and pleading for clean athletes not to suffer but the change has not worked

Shaun Walker in Moscow

17, Jun, 2016 @4:59 PM

Article image
Greg Rutherford fears ‘arms will be twisted’ to allow Russians to compete at Rio 2016
Greg Rutherford expects Russia’s track and field stars to be back in time for the Olympics because ‘political arms will be twisted and palms greased’ to allow them to compete in Rio

Sean Ingle

19, May, 2016 @9:00 PM

Article image
Pragmatism saves Russia from greater punishment after doping scandal
Despite the damning report proof of moves to clean up the system would bring Russia back in time for the Rio Olympics

Owen Gibson

13, Nov, 2015 @10:36 PM

Article image
Russian doping ban may spark challenges from angry athletes | Sean Ingle
After the IAAF ban on Russian athletes there will be legal moves and manoeuvres aplenty in the run-up to the Rio Olympics but more serious allegations could also be in the pipeline

Sean Ingle in Vienna

17, Jun, 2016 @10:23 PM

Article image
Russian athletes must prove themselves to be clean to compete in Rio
Russian and Kenyan athletes in every sport will have to prove individually that they are clean if they are to compete in the Rio Olympics, says the IOC

Sean Ingle

21, Jun, 2016 @6:34 PM

Article image
Greg Rutherford: ‘UK Athletics is more of a hindrance than a help’
Britain’s Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, tells Donald McRae that UKA has failed to support him since he won gold and calls on the IAAF to do more to tackle doping and promote the sport with the money it rakes in

Donald McRae

17, Aug, 2015 @4:04 PM

Article image
Russia must end systemic culture of doping and corruption, says IAAF
World governing body wants Russia to issue a mea culpa for its behaviour but IOC president Thomas Bach says he is confident Russia will compete at Rio 2016

Sean Ingle

14, Nov, 2015 @10:30 PM

Article image
IOC must decide which way to jump over Russia at the Olympics | Owen Gibson
A vast database of damning evidence should help root out more offenders but a new global anti-doping system is needed after the Rio Olympic Games

Owen Gibson

21, Jul, 2016 @1:48 PM

Article image
What next for the main players in the Russia doping scandal?
Sebastian Coe is on the front foot after pushing through Russia suspension but the IAAF is not out of the woods with several former staff under investigation

Sean Ingle

13, Nov, 2015 @11:15 PM

Article image
Dark clouds hang over Anniversary Games as bad news keeps pouring in
The McLaren report and Russia’s doping scandal made attempts of positivity at the Olympic Stadium feel forced as the hangover from London 2012 kicks in hard

Owen Gibson at the Olympic Stadium

22, Jul, 2016 @6:34 PM