Russian President Putin won't boycott Pyeongchang Olympics

Lynette Rowe
December 8, 2017

Having consistently denied the allegations of a state-backed doping campaign, Russian Federation was banned from PyeongChang 2018 on Tuesday over the country's "systemic manipulation" of the rules, following a 17-month investigation carried out by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid.

In the televised remarks, Putin said that his government will allow any Russians who wish to take part in the games to compete as neutral athletes, saying that Russia will not declare any kind of blockade.

Now leading U.S. skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin have joined the chorus of those backing the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to ban the country from next year's Winter Olympics.

Individual Russian athletes may still be able to compete in South Korea, subject to meeting strict anti-doping guidelines, and would be referred to as "Olympic Athlete (s) from Russia" at the Games. Now is not the time to think about yourself.

It's been called an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport, prompting the most wide-ranging punishment ever meted out to a participating nation.

The head of Russia's Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, told the IOC that punishing clean athletes was "unjust and immoral".

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the decision after finding that Russian authorities knowingly doped their athletes during 2014 winter games in Sochi.

Russian authorities have never acknowledged the state's alleged role in the scandal but have pledged to work with worldwide sports bodies to help curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the country.

Richard McLaren, whose reports into Russian doping provided much of the basis for Tuesday's decision, told CNN that the scandal was a "sad commentary on sport", but added that he was pleased his work had been confirmed by the IOC. In all, it is estimated that more than 1,000 Russian athletes competing in more than 30 sports have been involved in doping since at least 2011. But the ones they'll be provided will be marked "OAR", which stands for - you guessed it - "Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation". One example: With the National Hockey League electing not to participate, the Russians could let even more air out of the tournament by barring players from its domestic Kontinental Hockey League, considered the second-best circuit in the world, from playing.

"The final decision of course must be made by the Olympic team", he said. "I support them", Ovechkin said. "I'm pretty sure they are going and I'm going to cheer for them". Since they will not be competing under ROC auspices, their uniforms can not bear the Russian flag, and the Olympic anthem, rather than the Russian one, will be played for them if they place in the top three. Kuznetsov said he could understand if Russian athletes were reluctant to play under the IOC's rules barring the country's flag and uniform.

Sweeping sanctions allow the regime to say to Russians: "These measures are against you as well as us; they are imposed by your enemies, Russia's enemies". "So it's similar for us, it's everything".

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