Kremlin to allow Russians compete at Winter Olympics

Jose Verdugo
Diciembre 7, 2017

Though Russian Olympians will not be allowed to compete under their flag, Putin said that he will not prevent athletes from competing in a "personal capacity" in the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

On Tuesday, the IOC's executive committee barred Russian Federation from the Olympics that will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February, as punishment for systemic doping.

His friend Mikhail, who is of the same age and also retired, said he was "sad" about the ban, which followed an explosive report confirming that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme that peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. According to the IOC, so-called "clean" Russian athletes that choose to participate must compete under the Olympic Flag, and the Olympic Anthem will play in the event that they receive medals.

Putin described the IOC's punishment as unfair and "collective punishment", adding that the evidence for the accusations was largely unproven.

Denying claims of the existence of a Russian state-sponsored doping program, Putin said that the testimony of former Moscow anti-doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, whose allegations led to investigations which culminated in the IOC's decision, raised more questions than they answered.

The Kremlin has vehemently denied running a state-sponsored doping program, and state media on Wednesday dismissed the ban as part of a plot to hurt Russian Federation.

Yana Romanova, a former Olympic biathlete, shed tears on Match TV as she gave an impassioned response to the news.

The CEO of the Sochi Olympics, Dmitry Chernyshenko, also had his place on an Olympic panel overseeing the 2022 Beijing Winter Games withdrawn by the IOC. Only athletes with no doping record will be permitted to compete. Russian athletes will have to deemed eligible by a panel headed by Valerie Fourneyron, the chair of the International Testing Association, and that includes a representative from WADA, as well as another anti-doping body.

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The IOC's decision was met with an eruption of irate denunciations from Russian officials, who attacked it as unfair and as part of a Western plot.

However, Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy speaker of the State Duma, the Russian parliament's lower house, has called for a boycott.

The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic Committee until at least the start of the closing ceremony in South Korea.

Politicians and athletes earlier reacted with anger and disappointment to the International Olympic Committee decision. Zhukov said that it was positive that Russian athletes could still participate in Pyeongchang.

"But I never said that and I support the hockey team's decision", he said.

But Calgary curler Chelsea Carey was less forgiving, saying she's not comfortable with allowing Russians to compete as neutrals because they're not being held to the same standard as her. "I can't just throw it all away", he said, the Russian-language news site Meduza reported.

An IOC attempt to bar Russians with previous doping bans from last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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