Pat Hickey has defended the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision not to impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes, while also confirming he will step down as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) following the Rio Games.
Hickey is one of the 15 members on the IOC which voted unanimously to leave decisions on individual athletes' participation with their international sports federations.
The decision has been criticised in many quarters, though swimming's world governing body FINA became the first international sports federation to take action by banning three Russian swimmers from the Games.
The World Anti-Doping Agency's (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.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s The Seán O’Rourke Show, Hickey confirmed that 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 the Rio Games.
He also shed further light on the IOC’s decision regarding Russian athletes.
“The reality of life is that we have a duty to protect the clean athletes,” he told listeners.
“Everyone talks about collective responsibility, but when you have the right to collective responsibility versus the right for individual justice that every human being is entitled to, this has to be weighed up.
“For example, if you in the morning commit a heinous crime, why should your family also be sentenced and jailed as a result of that?”
The IOC announced last week that all Russian athletes with previous doping offences will not be permitted to participate in Rio and Hickey says the McLaren report absolves the Russian Olympic Committee of any wrongdoing.
“I completely condemn all doping in sport and what has happened in Russia is totally reprehensible and has no place in sport, but he 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," he said.
“If Ireland was accused in the morning of previous doping offences and then all athletes were banned from Rio, there would be demonstrations on the street"
“He made that clear at his press conference as well.
“The Russian Olympic Committee is in good standing throughout the world.”
Hickey reiterated his stance that a blanket ban would not be fair on individual athletes.
“You take the Russian gymnastics team arriving in Rio last night. For 30 years they haven’t had a doping conviction, so why should those young athletes be barred from participating in the Rio Games?
“If Ireland was accused in the morning of previous doping offences and then all athletes were banned from Rio, there would be demonstrations on the street.
“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 has been the head of the Irish Olympic Council since 1988 and confirmed that Willie O’Brien will succeed him after the Olympic Games.
“After these Olympic Games I will be definitely, definitely stepping down as president," he said.
"I am so busy with president of Europe and the Executive Board of IOC, it’s time to pass on the baton and we have it prepared to do it in a proper way.”