International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said that Russia's committee members won't be penalized because they have no ties to the country's military and do not support the war in Ukraine, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Oct. 13.
Bach's remarks came a day after the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee for declaring authority over the athletic organizations of Russian-occupied Ukraine.
At a press conference in Mumbai after an IOC executive board meeting, reporters asked Bach why Yelena Isinbayeva and Shamil Tarpischev, Russia's two members of the IOC, did not also receive individual suspensions.
"They are not representatives of Russia in the IOC — they are the representatives of the IOC in Russia," Bach said.
Bach said that the decision was partly based on the findings of an IOC ethics commission.
"The understanding of the ethics commission is that neither Ms. Isinbayeva nor Mr. Tarpischev had contractual links with the Russian military or security agencies or supported the war in Ukraine," Bach said.
Despite these assertions, Isinbayeva and Tarpischev were both included in a Ukrainian sanctions list signed into law by President Volodymyr Zelensky in February 2023. The sanctions were aimed at Russian individuals who showed public support for the war.
Isinbayeva, a former pole vaulter and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, also served as a major in the Russian armed forces.
In July, the IOC announced it would not invite Russia or Belarus to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
It has still not made an official ruling on whether individual athletes from either nation will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
Bach said the decision to suspend the ROC would have no bearing on the status of individual neutral athletes.
"We reserve the right to invite by ourselves individual, neutral athletes with Russian passports and this means the ROC will have no role to play," he said.