Putin: Russia won’t stop athletes competing in Pyeongchang

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/12/7 22:43:39

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would not prevent its athletes from competing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics if they wanted to, damping down calls from some Russians for a boycott of the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday banned the Russian team from the Olympics after evidence emerged of an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system but left the door open for some Russians to compete as neutrals if they demonstrate they have a doping-free background.

"Without any doubt, we will not declare a blockade, we will not prevent our Olympians from taking part if one of them wants to participate in a personal capacity," Putin said on state television.

In his first comments since the ban, Putin took aim at Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory whose allegations of state-sponsored doping and a coverup at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics triggered IOC investigations. Without identifying Rodchenkov by name, Putin said the IOC's decision had been "mainly based on the testimonies of a person whose moral and ethical attitudes and psychological state raise many questions."

"Most of the accusations are based on facts that have not been proven and are largely unfounded," Putin said.

Putin said that Russia bore a share of blame for the IOC decision for having given international Olympic authorities a pretext for banning the country.

"I think that this excuse was not used in an honest way, to put it mildly," Putin said.

He did not budge on Russia's insistence that there was no state-sponsored doping system in the country.

"Why are our Olympians being banned from competing under the Russian flag and national symbols, if there is no state support for doping? Then punish those who are guilty," Putin said.

Putin announced on Wednesday he would run in the next year's Russian presidential election.



Posted in: EUROPE

blog comments powered by Disqus