Days before the opening ceremony in Rio, International Olympic Committee bosses have decided what to do about Russian cheating: leave it to the relevant sports federations to decide who can compete.

So, no team ban, then. But the Russian athletes will be subjected to rigorous, individual scrutiny by their various federations, checking their histories and their involvement with doping. No Russian athlete with any doping conviction, regardless of whether they have served their sanction, will be allowed to compete.

This comes after an independent report on doping, after a 57-day probe, that disgraced the nation. Canadian law professor Richard McLaren found that the Russian government actively participated in the cheating. Athletes doped, and the Ministry of Sport oversaw the manipulation of samples during laboratory analysis.

They cheated, then lied and cheated further to cover their bid for athletic honours. Laboratory technicians in Moscow had no option but to join the fraud, well knowing that the podium moments were stolen and there was no honour.

The Russians systematically rendered meaningless the word "sport". A foreign ministry accusation of an American plot, for US dominance on the track and field, and to turn Russians against President Putin, sounded pathetic in the light of evidence heard, and the figures who weighed it.

Banning the entire team would have been unfair. There are Russian athletes who have not stooped to performance enhancement, and they should be allowed.

But the Olympics is about both individual athleticism and countries. The glory is shared. As the Games progress, the leaderboard features countries and their flags, not individual names.

The question, therefore, is whether Russian athletes should be allowed to walk into the Maracanã Stadium at the opening ceremony carrying their national flag. The shame would not be theirs, it would be their government's.