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PREVIEW IOC Session picks new members, sports against Russia doping backdrop By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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IOC members hold their 129th Session ahead of the opening of the Rio de Janeiro Games, electing new members and new sports for the 2020 Games - all against the backdrop of the Russia doping case which is not officially on the agenda but may be touched upon.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The Russian doping issue is not officially on the agenda of the 129th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between Tuesday and Thursday but may still arise at times.

The 90 IOC members meet ahead of Friday‘s opening of the Rio Games to confirm five new sports for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and elect eight new members.

Also on the agenda are reports from IOC commissions and progress reports from future Olympic host cities.

However, the Russian issue may arise when IOC president Thomas Bach makes his speech at the formal opening of the Session later Monday at the Citades das Artes centre in Rio, and his presidential speech on Tuesday.

The IOC has come under heavy fire from athletes, anti-doping organisations and western media for not imposing a blanket ban on Russia for the Rio Games after World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigator Richard McLaren spoke of widespread and state-sponsored doping in Russian sport in a report issued last month.

But Bach insisted Monday a full ban "would not be justifiable from moral and legal grounds. Everyone is entitled to certain rights of natural justice."

More than 250 Russian athletes are now expected to compete in Rio after a strict selection process.

Apart from Bach‘s speeches, the Russian issue could arise Tuesday afternoon when WADA chief Craig Reedie, who is also IOC vice-president, issues his report to the Session.

Reedie will likely also update the IOC on meldonium, a drug added to the World Anti-Doping Code from January 1 and for which many athletes including Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova have tested positive. However, WADA then had a partially backtrack with sanctions because there was no scientific evidence of how long the substance stays in the system.

On Wednesday, the IOC members are expected to follow the recommendation of their executive board and confirm baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, surfing and sports climbing to the Tokyo 2020 programme.

The Session concludes Thursday with elections of two IOC vice-presidents and seven executive board members; the re-election of IOC members, and the election of new members to the IOC which can have a maximum of 115 members.

The new candidates are former race walker Sari Essayah of Finland; world governing bob and skeleten federation chief Ivo Ferriani of Italy; Luis Moreno of Colombia; Auvita Rapilla of Papua New Guinea; Anant Singh of South Africa; Canadian Olympic committee president Tricia Smith; Austria Olympic committee chief Karl Stoss and India‘s Nita Ambani.

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