Belarus' MP comments on situation with Russian athletes and 2018 Olympic Games

Belarus' MP comments on situation with Russian athletes and 2018 Olympic Games

The IOC does not take that away from individual Russian athletes, who can apply directly to the IOC to compete.

In truth, the International Olympic Committee could hardly fail to act given the evidence uncovered by the explosive World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sponsored McLaren report and two subsequent International Olympic Committee investigations, which found that Russian athletes had taken part in an elaborate drug cheating programme that reached its zenith at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"As the president said yesterday while expressing his view of the situation surrounding the IOC's decision, the reason is that there are still a lot of unanswered questions".

"It all looks like an absolutely orchestrated and politically-motivated decision ..."

Russia is expected to make a final decision on its stance regarding the IOC ban at a meeting of Russian Olympic authorities next week. Since they will not be competing under ROC auspices, their uniforms can not bear the Russian flag, and the Olympic anthem, rather than the Russian one, will be played for them if they place in the top three.

The games will not be broadcast in the country because of the absence of a Russian national team.

Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would not prevent its athletes from competing in Pyeongchang as neutrals, damping down calls from some Russians to boycott the Games.

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"Russia has been punished, including the government in the guise of Mutko, but there exists a way out for those athletes who have nothing to do with this".

Putin never went to a Super Bowl, but he's got a championship ring courtesy of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who handed it over during a Kremlin visit in 2005 for what he thought was a brief inspection - and never saw it again. 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.

Alexei Kravtsov, president of the Russian Skating Union, said: "The decision is offensive, insulting and completely unjustified".

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said at his closing news conference after two days of meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, that leaving Russian Federation in the name was "reflecting reality" that its athletes would be in South Korea. But the Russian government has not gone as far as to declare a boycott of the Games; it might try to convince high-profile athletes to withdraw from competition for propaganda purposes, but it will not stop or pull funding for those who want to go. "But I don't think anything will change".

Deputy Prime Minister added that the priority now is to support Russian athletes as to protect the "good name" and to participate in the Olympics.

"Their rivals will know that they are from Russia - it will simply be a slightly different interpretation", Russian IOC member Yelena Isinbayeva, a former Olympian, told Rossiya 24 news channel. "We shouldn't be thinking that winning at any price shows the greatness of our motherland, but we rather have to think of fairness in sports'". Kuznetsov said he could understand if Russian athletes were reluctant to play under the IOC's rules barring the country's flag and uniform.

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