IOC President Thomas Bach claimed it was unfair to compare the annexation of Crimea to that of the four territories in eastern Ukraine when it came to the ROC's suspension ©Getty Images

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has revealed here the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) questioned the timing of its suspension and why it was not done after recognising a Crimean entity.

Bach, though, declined to respond to vociferous criticism from the country about its suspension, announced at the end of the first day of the IOC Executive Board meeting in India's commercial capital.

Having avoided the measure since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, the ROC were finally banned because it recognised four regional entities from illegally annexed territories in eastern Ukraine.

Russia's Foreign Ministry accused the IOC of being influenced by the United States in its decision.

"If I would respond to every comment coming from Russia, I could not do anything else anymore, and I will not go to this level of comments which we can hear from some people in Russia, from some people in the Government, close to the Government or in the Parliament," Bach said.

He confirmed the ROC had been offered the chance to respond before being suspended, and claimed it had insisted it was following Russian law and questioned why the IOC did not take action after the widely-unrecognised annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"More or less [the ROC response said] that this would follow the laws in Russia, that the Duma would have passed a law which annexed the four regions to the Russian Federation, and the ROC did nothing else but to follow this law," Bach said.

"About Crimea, they were making a comparison to Crimea.

"This is a comparison you cannot make because the IOC never accepted the annexation of Crimea.

"Therefore, this argument was a little bit, 'Why did you not sanction us already, earlier?'.

"We never acknowledged this annexation, and in fact we did not have at the time and in 2016 when this question came up, we did not have issues with the nationality of athletes participating in the Olympic Games Rio 2016."

The IOC plans to
The IOC plans to "keep monitoring developments" at the Russian Olympic Committee ©Getty Images

The ROC was last suspended from December 2017 until February 2018 because of the state-sponsored doping scandal, requiring its athletes to compete under a neutral banner at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang. 

Asked how the ROC could have its suspension lifted, Bach replied the IOC would "keep monitoring the developments", but insisted there was "no time pressure".

He claimed it will not impact a decision on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as individual neutrals at next year's Olympic Games in paris. 

The IOC had initially blocked Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in international sport after the invasion of Ukraine, but in March eased this stance to allow those who are not affiliated to the military to compete as individual neutrals.

Advocacy group Global Athlete today described the ROC's suspension is "deceptive and ineffectual".

"Yesterday's suspension of the ROC follows a pattern of past 'sanctions' that have falsely conveyed to the public that adequate actions are being taken," Global Athlete said.

"The suspension of the ROC guilefully provides a façade under which the IOC can welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes, masked as neutrals, all the while maintaining a delicate balance with the influential Russian entities that hold sway over Bach and the organisation."

It claimed there would be an "athlete uprising" if Russian and Belarusian athletes are permitted to compete at Paris 2024.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC members in Russia including Yelena Isinbayeva had been cleared to continue their roles by the IOC Ethics Commission ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC members in Russia including Yelena Isinbayeva had been cleared to continue their roles by the IOC Ethics Commission ©Getty Images

Bach today pointed to this month's IOC International Athletes' Forum in Lausanne, where he claimed there had been support for the IOC's position, and some participants from the African continent had wanted it to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes under their own flags.

The IOC President added the IOC Ethics Commission had deemed the two Russian IOC members Shamil Tarpischev and Yelena Isinbayeva did not have links with the Russian military or security agencies and had not supported the invasion of Ukraine.

He insisted "they are not the representatives of Russia in the IOC, they are the representatives of the IOC in Russia".

Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Isinbayeva has often been pictured in military uniform and has previously supported Russian President Vladimir Putin.

She has claimed her promotions were "nominal" and she has "never been in the service of the armed forces" after calls for her to be suspended by the IOC.

Isinbayeva's claims that she had not been part of the military angered many in Russia.