Newspaper article International New York Times

Olympics Chief Supports a Peculiar Form of Justice on Doping

Newspaper article International New York Times

Olympics Chief Supports a Peculiar Form of Justice on Doping

Article excerpt

Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee president, defended allowing Russian athletes to compete, saying, "Justice had to be blind."

Finally, after a week of the most impertinent questions possible, Thomas Bach, the embattled president of the International Olympic Committee, was about to field a friendly one.

Day after day, reporters and athletes had questioned his motives and inaction, demanding to know why he and the executive board of the I.O.C. voted to let many Russian athletes compete in Rio despite truly, deeply, madly persuasive evidence of state-sponsored doping.

Then a woman from Russian state television bounded to her feet in the airport-hangar-like media space here on Thursday. She smiled softly at Bach.

"It looked like you personally were helping us," she said. "Is it true? Was it difficult, since you were helping us as we think?"

She continued to talk, asking Bach whether the investigation of state-sponsored doping was a political attack on Russian sportsmen. By that point, however, Bach's fleshy face had gone Botox-injection frozen. When she sat down, he began to talk of natural law and natural justice, and justice and group decisions and personal decisions.

"Justice had to be blind," Bach said. "Justice is not to look on one side and the other side. We have to apply the rules of law and natural justice."

On and on he went. He never, however, precisely disabused her of the notion that he had rendered a service to Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin.

These are tough days for Bach. He should be enjoying one gold- plated reception after another. Instead, he is stuck with this inconvenient report on Russian doping. He has complained that the World Anti-Doping Agency waited too long to act or acted too quickly. He repeatedly refers to recent "allegations" of state- sponsored doping, and suggests that the report is not complete. …

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