President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Pat Hickey, has defended the decision by the International Olympic Council not to impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes in next month's Rio games
Hickey, speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1, also confirmed be would be leaving his role after the Rio Olympicis.
He is likely to be succeeded by the OCI first vice president Willie O'Brien - not second vice president John Delaney - having held the role since 1989.
On Sunday the IOC decided against an outright ban on all Russian athletes, ignoring recommendations from Wada.
Instead they have ruled to allow the 28 individual federations which comprise the summer games to decide their fate This means athletes can compete providing they can prove “to the full satisfaction of his of her International Federation” that they are clean.
However they have also said the absence of a positive test alone will not be sufficient for an athlete to compete, and federations are required to “carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.”
And Hickey has given his backing to this decision, suggesting the level of testing in place means only clean athletes will make it to Brazil, and that: “we have eliminated all athletes from Russia who have been found guilty of a doping offence.”
Discussing the IOC’s decision not to hand down a blanket ban, he said: “The reality of life is that we have a duty to protect the clean athletes.
“Everyone talks about collective responsibility, but when you have the right to collective responsibility versus the right for individual justice that every human being is entitled to, this has to be weighed up.
“For example, if you in the morning commit a heinous crime, why should your family also be sentenced and jailed as a result of that?”
He went on to say: “I completely condemn all doping in sport and what has happened in Russia is totally reprehensible and has no place in sport, but the one thing that was very clear from the McLaren report was that the Olympic Committee of Russia was not implicated in any shape or form.
“You take the Russian gymnastics team arriving in Rio last night. For 30 years they haven’t had a doping conviction, so why should those young athletes be barred from participating in the Rio Games?
“If Ireland was accused in the morning of previous doping offences and then all athletes were banned from Rio, there would be demonstrations on the street.”
Hickey also suggested IOC president Thomas Bach’s relationship with Vladimir Putin has been exaggerated by the media, and defended his own relationship with the Russian president.
He said: “Your rival radio station is branding me in the same category becuase they think I’m chasing European games in Russia, which I am not, and which has been blown out of the water anyway.
“My job as president of Europe is to unite north east south and west and the last thing we want to do is to go back to Cold War days and the Olympic boycotts that we had in 1980 and 1984. I think this is the best way forward.”
On July 17th Hickey, speaking to The Irish Times, slammed the impending McLaren report which when released called for an outright Russian ban.
He said: ““This letter calls upon the IOC to instigate a wholesale ban of the Russian Olympic Committee team in Rio 2016,” says Hickey, who is also serving as the President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC).
“This unprecedented call for such a ban is based on what the US and Canadian National Anti-doping Agencies say are the findings of the independent McLaren Report.
“The email from Beckie Scott and the attached letter has shocked and concerned me on a number of levels.
“Firstly, the McLaren report is meant to be a totally independent report that must remain totally confidential until its publication (on Monday, July 18th, 2016 at 09:00 in Canada). It is clear from the email and letter that both the independence and the confidentiality of the report have been compromised.
“My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree an outcome before any evidence has been presented. Such interference and calls ahead of the McLaren Report publication are totally against internationally recognised fair legal process and may have completely undermined the integrity and therefore the credibility of this important report.
“Secondly, I have checked with the chairperson of the EOC Athletes Commission and he has not been consulted about the request in the Scott email for European signatories. Yet I note from her email that three European NADOS (national anti-doping organisations) ‘amongst others’ have been approached to sign. It is clear that only athletes and organisations known to support a ban of the Russian Olympic team have been contacted.”
Hickey also backed the decision of Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry not to compete at the Rio games due to fears over the Zika virus.