Reigning Olympic and six-time world all-around gymnastics champion Kohei Uchimura said the International Olympic Committee made the right choice by letting international federations approve or reject the participation of Russian athletes at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The IOC’s executive committee on Sunday decided not to issue a blanket ban on Russia after a July 18 report from the World Anti-Doping Agency alleged the Russian government directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of the doping control process at the Sochi Olympics and Paralympics.
“It’s absolutely wrong to ban athletes who have not broken the rules. It’s good (this decision was made),” said Uchimura, who said the presence of Russians will be testament to the clean nature of the gymnastics world.
But his stance on those who are guilty of violations was clear.
“Those who dope can’t complain even if they get banned for life,” said the 27-year-old.
Yuji Takada, the senior director of the Japan Wrestling Federation and an assistant to the head of the Japanese delegation for Rio, also backed the decision.
“I think the IOC made the right decision. It’s difficult to penalize a whole country when an individual athlete’s wrongdoings haven’t been made clear,” he said.
“It would taint the history of the Olympics and leave root cause for troubles (with Russia) in the future. I suppose this was the only common ground they could find.”
Japan Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said, “(The IOC) didn’t leave everything to the international federations. It’s good to leave the international federations rooms to sanction those who can properly prove themselves clean.”
Shin Asakawa, the senior director of the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, believes more should have been done for the sake of those who have never been engaged in doping.
“The IOC should have made a more thorough decision,” he said. “Will (clean) athletes fully accept the decision? I think this has really tarnished the value of the Olympics.”
Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the Japan delegation, said, “The athletes will be really confused if the criteria differ depending on the federations. I’d like the international federations to be responsible in carrying out stringent examinations, but they need to be both even-handed and speedy.”
Koji Murofushi, Japan’s 2004 Olympic hammer-throw gold medalist, demanded a swift end to the issue to allow athletes from other countries to focus on their preparations.
“We need them (international federations) to move quickly to provide an environment where athletes can compete without concerns,” said the sports director for the 2020 Tokyo organizing committee. “We haven’t got time. That’s what worries me.
“I think it’s the IFs that have the track record of doping. There could be cases where retests will be necessary.”