IOC Chief Aims to Bring Russia in from the Cold

(ATR) Thomas Bach meets Vladimir Putin and vows to revive dialogue with Russia in wake of state-sponsored doping scandal

(ATR) Thomas Bach told Vladimir Putin on Sunday that the IOC is keen to revive dialogue with Russia after the state-sponsored doping scandal left the country’s reputation in tatters.

The IOC president held talks with the Russian president in Moscow ahead of the World Cup final won by France who triumphed 4-2 over Croatia.

It’s the first time the pair have met since the McLaren Report’s bombshell revelations in July 2016, which led to a partial ban of Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics.

McLaren’s findings following an investigation into allegations of systematic doping concluded that the Russian sports ministry led by Vitaly Mutko "directed, controlled and oversaw" the manipulation of athletes' analytical results or sample swapping from 2011 to August 2015.

The IOC said Bach and Putin discussed the development of sport in society in Russia, "in particular following the sanctions taken at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics" where Russians competed as neutral athletes.

"They both agreed that in the interests of Russian athletes, now was the time to re-enter into a dialogue, to look to the future and to bring Russian sport fully back into the international sports community," the IOC release said.

In December, the IOC banned Russia from the PyeongChang Olympics over the state-backed doping scandal at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, although it allowed 168 athletes to compete as neutrals. But on Feb. 28, in a controversial move, the IOC lifted its suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee just days after the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Games, despite Russia’s two failed drugs tests at the event.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency has not yet done enough to achieve WADA compliance to become fully operational. Other problems unresolved are the lack of a Russian doping test distribution plan for 2018 and legal problems in how the country enforces doping bans.

Following talks with Putin, the IOC said that Bach "noted that in the interests of clean Russian athletes and for all athletes from around the world, the reinstatement of RUSADA by WADA was of the highest importance".

"The IOC would advise the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to undertake the necessary remaining steps in this direction to allow Russia to once again play a full and active role in the Olympic Movement," the statement said.

Bach also congratulated Putin on the success of the World Cup and praised the hospitality of Russian citizens during the month-long tournament.

Earlier this year, former Russian NOC chief Alexander Zhukov described the three months of the IOC’s ban

as being "among the most challenging ones in Russian sport’s history".

Under plans to welcome the doping-tarnished sporting powerhouse back into the Olympic Movement, Bach will today meet with the newly elected Russian NOC president, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, and other representatives from the Russian Olympic Committee.

The IOC said the meetings were "to re-establish dialogue and cooperation".

The IOC said it is giving support to a number of new ROC projects, ranging from educational seminars aimed at developing a strong anti-doping culture among athletes to new agreements with training centers across Russia "to provide opportunities for athletes and coaches, particularly those from former Soviet republics".

Reported by Mark Bisson

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