Olympic leaders stopped short Sunday of imposing a complete ban on Russia from the Rio de Janeiro Games, assigning individual global sports federations the responsibility to decide which athletes should be cleared to compete.
The decision, announced after a three-hour meeting via teleconference of the International Olympic Committee executive board, came just 12 days before the Aug. 5 opening of the Games.
"We had to balance the collective responsibility and the individual justice to which every human being and athlete is entitled to," IOC president Thomas Bach said.
The IOC rejected calls from the World Anti-Doping Agency and dozens of other anti-doping bodies to exclude the entire Russian Olympic team following allegations of state-sponsored cheating.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart expressed disappointment with the IOC decision in a statement.
"Many, including clean athletes and whistleblowers, have demonstrated courage and strength in confronting a culture of state-supported doping and corruption within Russia. Disappointingly, however, in response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership," Tygart said. "The decision regarding the Russians participating and the confusing mess left in its wake is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes."
Russia's track and field athletes have already been banned by the IAAF, the sport's governing body, a decision that was upheld Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and was accepted by the IOC again on Sunday.
Calls for a complete ban on Russia intensified after Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer commissioned by the WADA, issued a report Monday accusing Russia's sports ministry of overseeing a vast doping program of its Olympic athletes.
McLaren's investigation, based heavily on evidence from former Moscow doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, affirmed allegations of brazen manipulation of Russian urine samples at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi but also found that state-backed doping had involved 28 summer and winter sports from 2011 to 2015.
But the IOC board decided against the ultimate sanction, in line with Bach's recent statements stressing the need to take individual justice into account. The IOC said the McLaren report had made no direct accusations against the Russian Olympic Committee "as an institution."
"An athlete should not suffer and should not be sanctioned for a system in which he was not implicated," Bach told reporters on a conference call after Sunday's meeting.
Bach acknowledged the decision "might not please everybody."
"This is not about expectations," he said. "This is about doing justice to clean athletes all over the world."
The leader of New Zealand's anti-doping movement said the IOC's decision shows "a lack of will to back the cord principles of their organization with hard decisions."
World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe said it is "unfair" of the IOC to leave it to individual sports to decide whether Russians should be allowed to compete in Rio.
"A truly strong message for clean sport would have been to ban all those who have been caught cheating,'' Radcliffe said in a statement posted on Twitter. "In short, it does not send the clear message it could have done that doping and cheating in all Olympic sport will never be tolerated.''
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov presented his case to the IOC board at the beginning of Sunday's meeting, promising full cooperation with investigations and guaranteeing "a complete and comprehensive restructuring of the Russian anti-doping system."
The IOC also said Russia is barred from entering for the Rio Games any athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping.
That appears to rule out swimmer Yulia Efimova, the world champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, 2012 Olympic silver-medal-winning weightlifter Tatiana Kashirina and two-time Olympic bronze-medal-winning cyclist Olga Zabelinskaya. All three have previously served a doping ban.
Saying "we don't have time enough to do such a thing," Zhukov said the ROC will not appeal the IOC decision to ban athletes with previous doping sanctions. Zhukov noted that he did not agree with the IOC's ruling.
Zhukov does not rule out any Russian athlete filing an urgent appeal as an individual because "all of them can go to CAS."
"We had to balance the collective responsibility and the individual justice to which every human being and athlete is entitled to." IOC president Thomas Bach, on the decision not to ban Russia entirely from the Olympics
In a statement, the IOC said it would accept the entry of only those Russian athletes who meet certain conditions set out for the 28 international federations to apply. The IOC said the federations have the authority, under their own rules, to exclude Russian teams as a whole.
The federations "should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete's anti-doping record, taking in account only reliable adequate international tests ... in order to ensure a level playing field," the IOC said.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said "the majority" of Russia's team complies with IOC criteria on doping and will be able to compete in Rio.
The criteria are "very tough, but that's a kind of challenge for our team. ... I'm sure the majority of our team will comply," Mutko said.
Mutko said he accepts the criteria but adds it is not fair that former dopers from other countries can compete.
Russian athletes accepted to the Olympics will be subject to a "rigorous additional out-of-competition testing programme," the IOC said. Any missed test by an athlete would result in a loss of accreditation by the IOC.
The International Tennis Federation said it expects Russia's eight-player Olympic tennis team to compete at the Games.
The IOC also rejected the application by Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the 800-meter runner and former doper who helped expose the doping scandal in her homeland, to compete under a neutral flag at the Games. However, the IOC added that it would invite her and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, to attend the Games.
Tygart said the decision to deny Stepanova an Olympics spot is "incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward."
The IAAF had also granted "neutral athlete" status to Florida-based long jumper Darya Klishina. Her status was unclear after the IOC's ruling.
Russia has admitted some doping violations by its athletes and coaches but denies that the government was involved. State media has painted the issue as a U.S.-led political vendetta.
Russia faces a possible ban from the Paralympic Games. Citing evidence in McLaren's report of doping among Russian Paralympic athletes, the International Paralympic Committee said Friday it will decide next month whether to exclude the country from the Sept. 7-18 event in Rio.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.