By Karolos Grohmann
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday defended the publication date of a damning report on doping in Russia, a day after the International Olympic Committee blamed it for the uncertainty surrounding Russian athletes at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
WADA's independent report compiled by law professor Richard McLaren was published on July 18, outlining systematic state-backed doping in Russia and triggering a series of sanctions only days before the start of the Brazil Olympics on Aug. 5.
"WADA’s Executive Committee... supported Professor McLaren’s independent mandate, which was to obtain evidence as quickly as possible in the interest of clean athletes," WADA chief Craig Reedie said in a statement.
"While it is destabilizing in the lead up to the Games, it is obvious, given the seriousness of the revelations that he uncovered, that they had to be published and acted upon without delay."
As a result, only one Russian track and field athlete has been cleared to compete while dozens of other Russians from different sports are banned from the Rio Games due to doping sanctions they have received in the past.
More than 250 Russian athletes from an original team of 387 have been cleared to compete but still await the green light this week from a three-member IOC panel that has the final say.
The IOC on Sunday said it was not responsible for this uncertainty, putting the blame squarely on WADA and its July release of the McLaren report.
"We are not responsible for the timing of the McLaren report, or for the fact different information that was offered to WADA a couple of years ago was not followed up," said IOC President Thomas Bach.
"We are not responsible for the supervision of doping laboratories. The IOC cannot be made responsible for the timing of the incidents we have to face now, a couple of days before the Games."
WADA had received information from whistleblowers a few years ago but did not act quickly.
This is not the first discord between the IOC and WADA even though Reedie is also a long-time IOC member.
WADA had demanded a blanket ban on Russian athletes in Rio following the McLaren report. The call was supported by several national anti-doping agencies in the United States, Canada and Germany among other as well as by some athletes groups.
But the IOC allowed Russian athletes with spotless doping records and sufficient international drugs tests to compete, saying it would be unfair to punish clean athletes along with cheats.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)