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Rio Olympics: No blanket ban on Russian athletes, IOC says

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(L-R) Brazilian former basketball player and Mayor of the Olympic Village, Janeth Arcain, the President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee Carlos Nuzman and Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 24, 2016. The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Brazil from August 5-21 and September 7-18 respectively. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee will not issue a blanket ban on Russian athletes hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games and will instead leave the decision up to individual sporting federations, the IOC confirmed in a statement Sunday.

A damning World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) report released earlier this week alleged a complex system of subterfuge that involved Russia’s security services tampering with and altering sealed urine samples.

All this was carried out under the direction of the country’s sport authorities to cover up doping across a “vast majority” of winter and summer sports, the report stated, leading many to call for Russia to be banned from the Rio games, which begin August 5.

However, Sunday’s announcement means Russian athletes “will be accepted by the IOC” to compete in Rio if they can meet strict anti-doping criteria, have no doping history and are given the green light by their own sports governing body.

On a conference call with reporters Sunday, IOC president Thomas Bach said the IOC’s decision had been difficult and that he was aware it would not please everybody.

“This is about doing justice to clean athletes all over the world. In this way we protect these clean athletes,” Bach said.