The International Olympic Committee has given a reprieve to Russian athletes threatened with a blanket ban from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Instead, they have turned the matter over to global federations responsible for governing individual sports.

For many years, it has been true that the performance enhancing drug cheaters were always a step ahead of the testers, but with samples now being stored for 10 years, many cases have come to light as testing methods caught up with the dopers.

The IOC’s statement said that the various federations “should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.”

In punting the responsibility to the various sanctioning bodies and declining to adhere to the World Anti-Doping Agency call for a total ban of Russian athletes, the IOC may have taken the politically correct route and saved the troubled 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games from bearing the stigma of being the first games to ban an entire country.

The absence of the Russians would have added a taint to any athlete who won a medal against reduced competition, as gold medal gymnast Bart Connors, who won when the Russians boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games, can readily attest.