The International Olympic Committee is seeking legal advice weighing a possible Russian ban "versus the right to individual justice" for clean competitors. A commission will probe allegations of wrongdoing.
Following Richard McLaren's damning report on state-sponsored doping in Russia, the IOC held an emergency conference call to discuss the country's Olympic fate, less than three weeks before the opening ceremony in Rio.
"With regard to the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the IOC will carefully evaluate the IP [Independent Person - a reference to lawyer McLaren] report," the IOC said in a statement. "It will explore the legal options with regard to a collective ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Games 2016 versus the right to individual justice."
The IOC's press release also noted the upcoming result of an appeal by Russian track and field athletes - already facing their own blanket ban from the IAAF athletics federation - at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This ruling, expected by Thursday at the latest, could impact on any potential IOC decision.
The committee's so-called Executive Board also said it supported an existing measure against Russian would-be Olympians, namely the reversal of the "presumption of innocence" principle. Instead, Russian athletes are currently considered suspected dopers unless they can prove otherwise.
McLaren's report, released in Toronto on Monday, accused doping laboratories in Moscow and Sochi of a systematic cover-up at the 2014 Winter Games, also implicating members of the foreign ministry, of the FSB secret service, and of Russia's national sports organizations.
"The findings show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games. Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take on the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated," IOC President Thomas Bach said of the investigation.
The IOC on Tuesday set up an investigative committee to look into individual allegations of wrongdoing stemming from the doping report, but did not reach a decision on Russia's participation in Brazil. It also agreed a string of smaller, provisional steps to implement immediately, without waiting on appeal verdicts from CAS or advice from its legal team.
These measures included refusing accreditation at the Rio Games to any officials from Russia's ministry of sport, or any others named in McLaren's report. Furthermore, the IOC agreed to launch a full inquiry into Russia's competitors at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, including sample re-tests and also forensic analysis to seek signs of hidden positive doping tests.
All such provisional changes, plus plans not to organize or assign any international competitions to Russia, were to remain valid until December 31 this year, when the IOC Executive Board would meet again to discuss whether to extend them or not.
Russian Sports Minister Mutko stays in post
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called his US counterpart John Kerry on Tuesday to discuss both the conflict in Syria and the doping issues.
The foreign ministry in Moscow summed up their discussion as follows: "Lavrov told Kerry all that he thinks about the anti-Russian, inflammatory claims made by the US Anti-Doping Agency to the International Committee." The US and Canadian doping agencies had sought support from other organizations for a call for a blanket ban on Russian competitors in Rio - with this appeal leaking into the public domain before the results of McLaren's investigation were published.
President Vladimir Putin announced a domestic, Russian investigation into the allegations on Monday, but said that most of the claims could still be traced back to one man, former Russian anti-doping chief Grigory Radchenkov, "an individual with a notorious reputation."
Those individuals named in the McLaren Report, including Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornhyk, have been suspended pending the Russian investigation's results. Sports Minister Mutko, considered a close ally of Putin, remained in his post.
"Mutko is not mentioned as an actual perpetrator [in McLaren's report]," said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov. When asked at Monday's Toronto press conference, however, McLaren did say that he found it very difficult to imagine that Mutko was not aware of a plan overseen by his deputy.
Mutko, sports minister since 2008, said on Tuesday that he expected his subordinates to be vindicated and then reinstated.