Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

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

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

By the time athletes arrive in PyeongChang, representatives for the International Olympic Committee said they anticipate that some 20,000 tests will have been done, many of them given to Russian athletes after widespread drug use scandals at previous Games.

Russian athletes have also responded, but focused more on what should happen with coming events than their peers who have committed the doping acts: Svetlana Zhurova, a Russian ice skating Olympic champion, said clean athletes should be allowed to compete as well as be allowed to do so under the Russian flag; Alexei Voevoda, a Russian bobsledder and Olympic champion, said athletes in the past were banned for a few years already, and that banning athletes for life is not in the spirit of sports.

Slava Malamud, a USA -based contributor to the Russian language Sovetsky Sport newspaper, which is headquartered in Moscow, said the IOC ban is unlikely to change Russia's approach to Olympic competition. It is yet unclear who will bear the expenses related to the participation of Russian athletes in the 2018 Olympic Games, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russian Federation has been banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. That is, if Russian President Vladimir Putin allows them to go to the February 9-25 games.

"I can say only one thing, if we pay, than we will pay on the grounds of a concluded deal with the IOC", Mutko stated adding that "we must not simply transfer the money from our account as we need the reasoning to do so". "I really feel for them", he said of the athletes in the Russian team.

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Many Russians had earlier taken to Twitter to express outrage over the International Olympic Committee decision, tweeting under the hashtag "no Russia, no games".

"They have been preparing for these competitions for their whole careers, and for them it's very important".

If it was a victory to have the word "Russia" in the team name and invite some Russian athletes to compete, it came at a cost.

His lawyer, Jim Walden, told reporters Tuesday, "Today's decision sends a powerful message that the International Olympic Committee has joined the world community in saying that Russia's cheating needs to be severely sanctioned".

The country has been in the spotlight for said allegations since a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency commissioned in 2015 found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian Federation, and accused it of systematically violating anti-doping regulations, an NBC News report stated.

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Russian athletes will be free to take part in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games under the Olympic flag, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

The sanctions could be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the downhill ski competition at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

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.

But Russia has denied state-sponsored doping scheme alleged by WADA report. It blames Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow and Sochi testing laboratories, as a rogue employee.

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