Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Russia Will Support Its 'Neutral' Athletes At Winter Olympics, Says Mutko

Russia Will Support Its 'Neutral' Athletes At Winter Olympics, Says Mutko

On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee, banning the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea's PyeongChang.

It is unclear how many Russians could compete in South Korea.

"Medvedev, addressing the government, said that allegations that Russian Federation had run a state-sponsored doping program were "an outright lie". 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.

"The sanction against Mutko is very strong (given that he was) not just sports minister but is now deputy prime minister and number three in the government", said Clastres. At the same time, the IOC intends to respect the rights of clean athletes, allowing them to participate in the upcoming games as "Olympic Athletes of Russian Federation".

Charges of cheating are not new to Russian athletes.

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He also noted that "the president made it perfectly clear that he did not support the idea to prevent the athletes who receive permissions from going to the Olympic Games, as it should be their own decision".

It is a win for the country that the word "Russia" is retained in the title "Olympic Athlete from Russia" or OAR.

The official also said Seoul is making full use of diplomatic channels to make sure the Russian players are "fully supported" if they participate as neutral or private citizens.

Now leading USA 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.

The games will not be broadcast in the country because of the absence of a Russian national team. "To participate in the Olympics is an athlete's right".

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The IOC ruled Tuesday individual Russians may still compete as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia". But no blanket ban of a country has been carried out before because of doping, chemicals athletes have injected to give them an edge against competitors. This is the most important challenge for the International Olympic Committee and its partner organizations.

The exclusion strikes a hard balance between hurting the regime and not punishing Russians themselves.

It said the IOC's actions proved that "you can destroy a whole Olympic country on the basis of indirect evidence and a single witness who was under a criminal investigation and has been treated in a psychiatric hospital".

Politicians and athletes earlier reacted with anger and disappointment to the International Olympic Committee decision. It is already being pushed by state television, which talks about Russia's enemies trying to humiliate it.

A Russian lawmaker declared that "we won't apologize".

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If it did, Russia would face further Olympic suspensions, and other nations would recruit Russian athletes keen on Olympic glory.

Russian officials are expected to address the ban in a meeting next Tuesday.

In the absence of a boycott, the Russian public will watch Russian athletes compete in South Korea and be reminded of why their flag is not flying at the Games.

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