Rio Olympics 2016: Ireland's Pat Hickey defends IOC over Russia stance

Pat Hickey has been OCI President for 28 years and sits on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee
Pat Hickey has been OCI President for 28 years and sits on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee

Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey has defended the International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban Russia from Rio.

Hickey is one of 15 IOC members who voted unanimously to leave decisions on individual athletes' participation with their international sports federations.

"The reality of life is that we have a duty to protect the clean athletes," he told RTE.

He also confirmed he will step down as OCI President after the Rio Games.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had called for a Rio ban in response to the independent McLaren Report that found evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The IOC's decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Games has been widely criticised although 17 athletes. including swimmers, canoeists and modern pentathletes, have so far been banned by their respective federations.

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"I completely condemn all doping in sport and what has happened in Russia is totally reprehensible and has no place in sport," said Hickey.

"But the one thing that was very clear from the McLaren report was that the Olympic Committee of Russia was not implicated in any shape or form.

"The Russian Olympic Committee is in good standing throughout the world.

"You must protect the individual clean athletes.

"The last thing we ever want to do is to go back to our Cold War days and Olympic boycotts that we had in 1980 and 1984 and I think this is the best possible way forward."

Hickey said he will resign from his position as OCI President after 28 years in charge to be replaced by First Vice-President Willie O'Brien following next month's Games.

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