Russia Olympics ban: Kremlin ‘will not bar athletes’ from competing

File photo taken in February 2014 shows Russia's flag bearer, bobsledder Alexander Zubkov, leading his national delegation during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter OlympicsImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Russian bobsleigher Alexander Zubkov, pictured at the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony in 2014, has been banned for life over alleged doping violations

Russia will not prevent any of its athletes from competing independently in the Winter Olympics in February, President Vladimir Putin says.

The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from the Games in South Korea after two investigations outlined a state-sponsored doping programme.

But athletes who can prove they are clean and have not previously been sanctioned will be allowed compete.

“We will not be announcing any kind of blockade,” Mr Putin said.

There will be no Russian flags, anthems or uniforms in the Games in Pyeongchang. Russian athletes competing will carry a neutral flag and the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia”, the IOC says.

Russian state TV channels have said the allegations are an anti-Russia witch hunt, and have pushed the #NoRussiaNoGames hashtag.

But in his first comments after the IOC decision, Mr Putin said: “We will not prevent our Olympic athletes from taking part if anyone wants to take part in a personal capacity.”

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitr Peskov said the situation was “serious” and required “deep analysis”. But he called for Russians to avoid an “emotional” response.

Mr Peskov said it would be wrong to jump to conclusions until Russia’s athletes had met and the IOC had been contacted.

He added that it would not be a priority to hold Russian officials responsible.

Media captionIOC president: An “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympics”

A member of the Russian parliament, Valery Rashkin, has filed a lawsuit against former sports minister Vitaly Mutko over the row. Mr Mutko has been accused of presiding over a systematic cover-up of doping in Russian sport.

Meanwhile, 22 Russian athletes have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the IOC ban.


‘Humiliation and insult to Russia’

Steven Rosenberg, BBC News, Moscow

The IOC’s decision to exclude Russia from the Winter Olympics has sparked a furious reaction here.

The figure skating trainer Tatyana Tarasova described it as “the murder of Russia’s national sport”.

The deputy speaker of Russia’s parliament said it was a humiliation and an insult to Russia.

In a defiant post on social media, the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry said Russia would survive this – like it survived world war, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Western sanctions.

Although the Russian team has been banned from competing in South Korea, Russian athletes who can prove they are clean will be permitted to participate under the Olympic flag. But will the Kremlin allow them to?

President Vladimir Putin has in the past described such a scenario as a humiliation for his country.


In 2016, a report by lawyer Richard McLaren said that more than 1,000 Russians – including Olympic medallists – benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015.

The IOC announcement on Tuesday followed a second investigation – the Schmid report – which found evidence of “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system”, despite repeated Russian denials.

The IOC said the ban “should draw a line under this damaging episode”.

Russia Olympics ban: Kremlin ‘will not bar athletes’ from competing

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