Russia to carefully analyze Olympic ban, Kremlin says

Reuters, MOSCOW

Thu, Dec 07, 2017 - Page 1

Russia will have to carefully analyze the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to ban the nation from next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, before taking any measures, the Kremlin said yesterday.

The IOC on Tuesday banned Russia after evidence emerged of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system.

However, the door was left open for individual Russians to compete as an “Olympic Athlete of Russia” as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.

“Now, of course, we need to cast aside emotions and quite seriously analyze the decisions taken by the IOC regarding our country before making any judgement on this matter,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters on a conference call.

Peskov, who earlier this week said that Russia had no plans to boycott the Games if the IOC imposed restrictions on its participation, added that Moscow wanted to maintain ties with the committee.

“Once again we repeat that the situation is serious and requires deep analysis,” he said. “It wouldn’t be right to give in to emotions.”

Before Tuesday’s decision, more than 20 Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Games were banned for life from the Olympics for violating anti-doping rules.

The bans came as a result of an IOC investigation into allegations of widespread doping among Russian athletes, and tampering with samples by laboratory and security officials in Sochi, Russia.

The Kremlin declined to say whether officials involved in organizing the Sochi Games would be reprimanded.

They include Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, the former sports minister who was banned from the Olympics for life as part of the IOC decision.

Reprimands “can’t be paramount,” Peskov said.

“The priority is defending the interests of Russian athletes, and to defend their interests, we need to completely focus all our efforts, and everything else should come in second,” he added.

Russian authorities have vehemently denied state involvement in doping and pledged to work with international sports bodies to curb the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs in the country.