March 25, 2018

In banning Russia, IOC does the right thing, for once

07 December 2017, 06:13 | Joan Schultz

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A hard line has been taken by the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, or VGTRK, which said Tuesday that if Team Russia isn't competing in South Korea, it won't broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Selected Russian athletes will join Kuwaiti nationals who competed under the Olympic flag in the 2016 Summer Games.

Another Olympics expert from the University of France-Comte, Eric Monnin, said the International Olympic Committee was "playing for its life and legitimacy" during the sordid state-sponsored doping affair, in which the global body also banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko from the Olympics for life.

Putin said on Wednesday there were many questions about the IOC's decision, but that it would be up to every Russian sportsperson to decide if they participate as neutral competitors. The South Korean-born skating legend, is an eight-time gold medalist who obtained Russian citizenship in 2011, after a public falling out with South Korea's skating union. However, the Kuwaiti athletes participated under the neutral flag after the Kuwait Olympic Committee was suspended due to the Kuwaiti government's interference in the committee, Reuters reported.

Travis Tygart CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency said: "Over the past three years, a high stakes game of chicken has been played between those willing to sacrifice the Olympic ideals by employing a state-directed doping program to cheat to win and, on the other side, athletes unwilling to stand silent while their hopes and dreams were stolen and the Olympic Games hijacked". By the time the report came out, almost all Russian track and field athletes had been banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"I've seen all sorts of reaction from athletes", NPR's Lucian Kim says from Moscow.

Russian officials have refused to acknowledge the scope and depth of the findings about the country's Olympic teams, saying that the problems were limited to individual athletes. He also noted that it was "very important" that the neutral uniforms that Russian athletes would wear would still have the word "Russia" on them. The American team now leads the way with the 28 medals it won in 2014, with Norway second - and that is without the redistribution of medals that were taken away from Russian athletes.

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Jean-Loup Chappelet, an Olympic specialist from the University of Lausanne, said the IOC's decision was "strong because it rested on its credibility regarding the subject of doping and sent the ball into Russia's court".

"The decision is controversial.Fair competition has always remained the basis for developing sports in our country".

"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".

Russia's move into wholesale Olympics cheating is often traced to 2010, when the country's athletes fell well short of expectations by winning only 15 medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympics - a bad omen as the country prepared to host the 2014 Games in Sochi.

The IOC has stripped 11 medals from Russia's tally in Sochi so far over the doping. Before Putin's statement, Victor An, the Korean-born short-track speed-skater said that he would go unless Russian Federation boycotted the Olympics.

It is now likely that a number of Russian champion athletes will compete.

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