LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The British Olympic Association should not be punished for its lifetime Olympic ban on doping offenders even though it contravenes World Anti-Doping Agency rules, a senior International Olympic Committee official said Wednesday.
WADA ruled last month that the BOA's controversial lifetime ban for British doping offenders broke the world body's own rules, which specify a maximum two-year ban for a first offence.
The BOA, which bans any athlete guilty of a doping offence from future Olympics, has vowed to defend its ban and take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport prior to the 2012 Games.
"No one can sanction a National Olympic Committee which within its own authority is trying to do its best to fight doping," IOC vice-president Thomas Bach told reporters.
"For all the rest it (the BOA) is fulfilling all its WADA requirements."
CAS also ruled in October that an IOC rule similar to the BOA's, excluding athletes banned for six months or more from the next Olympics, amounted to a second sanction and contravened WADA's anti-doping code.
"The spirit of WADA regulation is to fight doping," Bach said. "CAS has to give room for interpretation."
Bach, speaking during an IOC executive board meeting, said the IOC would decide Wednesday to work toward introducing their rejected "Osaka rule" into the revised WADA code in 2013.
"I support initiatives of NOCs in their country which they deem as legally feasible. We have to give NOCs the freedom to think what they can do. If they are confident they can push it through this is fine for me," he said.
The IOC said later the BOA would soon be compliant whatever the outcome of their case before CAS.
"We fully support the independence of NOCs to set their own rules but respect the ruling of CAS," IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams told reporters.
"I understand that they (BOA) are taking the case to CAS. Whatever the outcome they will be fully compliant."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John Mehaffey)
By Karolos Grohmann