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Kremlin to analyse Russia’s Olympic ban before taking any steps

Kremlin to analyse Russia’s Olympic ban before taking any steps

MOSCOW: The Kremlin needs to carefully analyse the Inter­national Olympic Committee’s ruling to bar Russia and its sports officials from the 2018 Pyeon­gchang Games before making any decisions regarding the country’s participation, a spokesman for President Vladi­mir Putin said on Wednesday.

Dmitry Peskov said “we need to put emotions aside” and “make a serious analysis” of the ruling before taking any steps. Peskov also said Russia “still needs to answer some questions” from the IOC.

The IOC banned Russia on Tuesday from the upcoming Winter Olympic Games after evidence emerged of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system — something it has always denied — when it hosted the 2014 Sochi Games.

The door was left open, however, for 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 analyse the decisions taken by the IOC regarding our country before making any judgment on this matter,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

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

“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 IOC decision, more than 20 Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Games were banned for life from the Olympics for having allegedly violated 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 at Sochi.

The Kremlin declined to say whether officials involved in organising the Sochi Games would be reprimanded. They include Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, the former sports ministry 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 our Russian athletes. And to defend their interests, we need to completely focus all our efforts, and everything else should come in second.”

Mutko has yet to address the ban against him publicly while Putin spoke later on Wednesday but did not address the Olympic issue.

The Kremlin has vehemently denied running a state-sponsored doping program, and state media on Wednesday dismissed the ban as part of a plot to hurt Russia.

The head of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, has told the IOC that punishing clean athletes was “unjust and immoral”.

Russia’s athletics federation, Paralympic Com­mittee and anti-doping agency RUSADA remain suspended over doping scandals.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017

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