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International Olympic Committee 'exploring legal options' over Russia ban

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will "explore the legal options" for a possible total ban on the Russian team from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC said calls for a collective ban on the Russians will be judged "versus the right to individual justice".

The executive board met to consider steps following widespread doping allegations detailed in Monday's report by World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) investigator Richard McLaren.

Wada recommended that the IOC consider taking the unprecedented step of excluding the entire Russian team from the Rio Games.

The IOC said it will still have to take into account a verdict coming this Thursday from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court is due to rule on Russia's appeal against the International Association of Athletics Federations' decision to ban its track and field athletes from Rio.

Earlier, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko denied covering up hundreds of doping cases, and said he also expects his staff to be cleared.

The Wada investigation alleged Mr Mutko's ministry "directed, controlled and oversaw" a mass cover-up of Russians' drug test failures over several years, including swapping samples at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Staff including a deputy sports minister and Mr Mutko's own anti-doping adviser were accused of directing which positive tests should be hidden, while Mr Mutko himself was accused of ordering a cover-up when a football player tested positive.

Mr Mutko told Russian agency R-Sport that accusations against him are "absolutely unreal, and impossible".

Mr Mutko remains in his post, while his deputy Yuri Nagornykh is among a group of officials who have been suspended on orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, though Mr Mutko said: "We should regard even this suspension as temporary."

The Kremlin has insisted Russian athletes are still focused on competing at the Olympics despite calls for the delegation to be banned.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Russia is preparing for the Olympics, the Russian team is preparing for the Olympics."

Asked whether Russia would boycott the Games if it faces punishment, Mr Peskov did not answer directly, but said Russia does not want "such situations to damage the Olympic movement".