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2ND LEAD Russia close to all but blanket clearance for Rio Games By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Russian boxers, volleyballers, shooters and others have been cleared en masse from doping-related wrongdoing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and are set to compete at the Rio Games despite grave allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Alexander Zhukov told the state news agency Tass on Thursday that some 270 Russian athletes are to be at the Games in Brazil, which open on Friday.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the final list would be published later Thursday, after a special IOC panel - which had the final say - has informed all parties.

Russia had originally nominated 387 athletes for Rio, but the athletics team of 67 and the weightlifting team of 18 are suspended. That leaves just over 30 other athletes who have not been allowed to compete in Rio.

The IOC had decided not to impose a blanket ban on Russia after World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigator Richard McLaren revealed widespread and state-sponsored doping in the country in a special report from July 18.

A week later, the IOC decided to have the sports federations decide who could compete in Rio based on McLaren‘s evidence and special criteria, such as not nominating any Russian with a previous sanction.

An expert from the Court of Arbitration of Sport checked the results, which then went to a three-member IOC panel headed by medical commission chief Ugur Erdener for final approval.

This panel has now completed its work and was sending out its results, with Bach saying that they were expected to "be ready for publication later today."

Federation by federation were publishing the outcome and Zhukov told TASS: "We received endorsement documents for about 270 athletes and now we are to do the final computations."

Cleared athletes include the 11-strong boxing and judo teams, 30 volleyballers and beach volleyballers, and eight tennis players.

Bach on Thursday again defended the decision of the IOC not to ban the whole Russian team over the allegations, which also included tampering with test samples and disappearing positive tests.

He insisted the decision was not political.

"Justice has to be blind. You have to take notice of the facts. It was a very serious report with allegations concerning the anti-doping lab in Moscow and the ministry of sport. When having to take such a decision, the allegations play a major role," Bach said.

The IOC boss also reiterated that the investigation and McLaren‘s report are not finalized yet and added: "We all agree this is a situation we don‘t ever want to happen again."

WADA chief Craig Reedie, meanwhile, told the British newspaper The Guardian that the debate has become "political and hysterical." Reedie and WADA were heavily attacked during the week‘s IOC session.

McLaren insisted he has so far only looked at the allegations of state-sponsored doping but not at individual athletes implicated.

"People have misconstrued what was in that report, particularly the IOC and international federations. I have not done the work to drill down and see which athletes may have been doping and what they had been using," he said.

"The report was about state-sponsored doping, manipulation of results, swapping of samples, preparation of wash up schemes before London 2012. It‘s a state-run system. That‘s what in the report and people seem to have completely missed that," he added.

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