IOC meets to decide on Russia’s Olympic participation

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC executive board is meeting to decide if Russian athletes can compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics despite evidence that the country ran an orchestrated doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games.

The International Olympic Committee did not bar Russia from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The IOC instead asked sports governing bodies to decide which athletes could compete.

The IOC could now impose a stricter sanction by allowing Russians to compete only as neutral athletes without their national team name, flag or anthem.

IOC President Thomas Bach is scheduled to announce the 14-member board’s decision at 7:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) Tuesday.

The board’s debate on Russia has been given 4½-hour slot in the afternoon. Board member Denis Oswald will sum up the work of a disciplinary commission he has chaired to prosecute Russian athletes implicated in cheating in Sochi.

By Monday, 25 Russians had been disqualified from the Sochi Games and banned from the Olympics for life, and 11 medals were stripped. One Russian was cleared.

Russia no longer is at the top of the Sochi medals table. The banned athletes have said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

A second IOC commission chairman, Samuel Schmid, will also report to the board on his work on if Russian state agencies organized an “institutional conspiracy.”

Schmid, a former president of Switzerland, received a 50-page sworn affidavit from Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow and Sochi laboratory director who is a key witness for World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren and Oswald.

Russia has repeatedly denied that a state-sponsored doping program existed. It blames Rodchenkov as a rogue employee, and wants the scientist extradited from the United States, where he is a protected witness.

The Russian delegation to the meeting includes IOC member Alexander Zhukov, president of its national Olympic committee, and world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva.

Any sanctions imposed by the IOC can also be challenged at CAS, and later at Switzerland’s supreme court, which can intervene if legal process has been abused.