Russian appeals against Olympic bans were piling up Tuesday as IOC president Thomas Bach slammed what he called the “contemptuous” doping system blamed on the Moscow government.
Bach said the Russia scandal along with Brazil’s political and economic crises had made the runup to the first Olympics in South America “challenging”.
An investigation by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren which revealed state-organised doping in Russia, has overshadowed the buildup to the Rio Games which start Friday.
Eighteen canoeists and rowers made late appeals on Monday adding to challenges from three swimmers, a wrestler and the Russian weightlifting federation already in a queue at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But speaking at the opening session of an International Olympic Committee meeting, Bach said: “The findings in the McLaren report are very serious, in particular with regards to a system of doping allegedly orchestrated by the Russian ministry of sport.
“If proven true, such a contemptuous system of doping is an unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.”
The IOC has been criticised for not ordering a blanket ban against Russia. But the German leader of the Olympic movement said there had to be “justice” for athletes who are clean.
“You cannot punish a human being for the failures of his or her government if he or she is not implicated,” he said. Russia has denied any government backing for doping but its sports minister Vitaly Mutko has been barred from attending the Rio Games.
The IOC has ordered individual federations which organise the sports contest at the Olympics to filter out Russian athletes who should be banned over the doping.
This has led to the wave of cases at the CAS which has organised special hearings in Rio to deal with the appeals.
About 30 Russians have now appealed, directly or indirectly, against bans from the Rio Olympics ordered by international federations. More could follow.
CAS said in a statement that canoeist Andrey Kraytor and 17 Russian rowers led by Daniil Andrienko had also made appeals to the tribunal.
The first hearing for the rowers was scheduled for Tuesday when the tribunal would also decide whether more evidence would be needed in the case of Olympic medal winning swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev.
Another appeal by swimmer Yulia Efimova was adjourned until Tuesday and the case of wrestler Viktor Lebedev would follow, it added.
The Russian weightlifting federation has challenged its suspension by the International Weightlifting Federation over the doping scandal. It has said that if this is successful it will start a new case on behalf of eight lifters excluded from the Olympics.
The IOC chief has become involved in a political battle with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) over who is to blame for the chaos coming so close to the Rio opening.
Bach has said the IOC is not responsible as it did not decide on the release of the McLaren report nor control the anti-doping laboratories that Russian authorities have been accused of manipulating.
WADA hit back by saying it acted as quickly as possible over the doping revelations.
“While it is destabilising in the lead-up to the Games, it is obvious, given the seriousness of the revelations that (McLaren) uncovered, that they had to be published and acted upon without delay,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.
Meanwhile Vitaly Stepanov, the Russian anti-doping whistleblower, maintained that the Rio Olympics would not be drug-free and that the IOC was against those who had revealed the extent of drug problems, like himself.
Stepanov, whose wife, the runner Yulia Stepanova, has been excluded from the Games over drugs, told the French sports newspaper L’Equipe that the IOC “does not want whistleblowers... does not want people who tell the truth.”
Despite the doping scandal and other problems, Bach predicted this week that Rio will put on a “great” Games.
Hundreds of plumbers have been working on water and pipe problems at the athletes’ village. Workers have also been repairing the ramp to be used at the sailing venue in Guanabara Bay which collapsed after being hit by high winds and waves on Saturday.
The bay is already under high surveillance over the polluted and debris-ridden sea which worries many teams.
Some of the Olympic football matches will start on Wednesday ahead of the main Games and while the IOC session is debating doping and key business for future Olympics.
The meeting is due to accept recommendations that climbing, karate, surfing, skateboarding and baseball-softball be added to the bill for Tokyo 2020.
The 100 IOC members could also get reminders over the looming award of the 2024 Games which is being contested by Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.
France’s President Francois Hollande and Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will be among at least 45 heads of state and government at the opening ceremony in Rio on Friday.