Russia Won't Boycott Olympics Over Ban For Doping, Putin Says

Pyeongchang 2018 have signed a sponsorship deal with German-based company Bauerfeind

Putin says Russia won't prevent athletes from competing in Pyeongchang - agencies

The International Olympic Committee banned Russian Federation from the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping on December 5, 2017, allowing only a select few athletes to compete as neutrals if they meet strict conditions.

The IOC said its decision was based on evidence of a state-sponsored and systematic manipulation of anti-doping procedures by Moscow during the 2014 Sochi Games. Russia could refuse the offer to let its athletes compete without national identity or the playing of the Russian national anthem.

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 cover-up at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics triggered investigations that ultimately led to the International Olympic Committee decision.

South Korean organisers of the 2018 Winter Olympics said Wednesday they would welcome Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag after Moscow was banned from the Games over its state-orchestrated doping programme. "Secondly, I don't see any reason for a boycott by the Russian athletes because we allow the clean athletes there to participate".

Speaking to reporters after a speech to automobile plant workers in Nizhny Novgorod where he announced he would run for a fourth presidential term next year, Putin said the International Olympic Committee decision was politically motivated.

"Why are our Olympians being banned from competing under the Russian flag and national symbols, if there is no state support for doping?"

Bach said he had not spoken with Putin since the sanctions were announced, and suggested Russian athletes and sports leaders would meet Tuesday to discuss competing in Pyeongchang.

The decision by the IOC's executive board follows last year's McLaren report from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which confirmed that Russia's Olympics program had engaged in an "institutional conspiracy" to beat the system that included using a "mouse hole" through which to swap out athletes' drug-tainted samples for clean ones.

IOC President Thomas Bach said later Wednesday that allowing the country name to remain "was not a compromise, it was just reflecting reality" that it would be Russian athletes taking part. In the investigation said that about a thousand Russian athletes had systematically violated anti-doping rules in the period from 2012 to 2014. "I am proud of my country; it is a great honor for me to represent it at the games".

The ministry issued Zakharova's words along with a slogan that spread on social media Tuesday: "No Russia No Games. Then punish those who are guilty", Putin said.

In addition to the 2018 ban for Russia's representation as a country, the IOC fined the Russian Olympic Committee $15 million and suspended its president, Alexander Zhukov, as an IOC member.

The IOC stripped 29 weightlifting medals after 49 positive tests, most involving steroids, came back from reanalysis of the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.

Whether or not they compete under their own flag, ski jumping and Nordic combined seem unlikely to result in any medals for Russians.

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