Russians can compete at Olympics, but without flag — IOC

Russians can compete at Olympics, but without flag — IOC

Russians can compete at Olympics, but without flag — IOC

The "clean" athletes were allowed to participate under the neutral flag.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said he would support Russian athletes participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea, even though the Russian flag and anthem will be absent.

A report made by a WADA investigator and presented a year ago before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics included the testimony of the informer Grigori Rodchenkov, who worked with the Moscow branch of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). They would have to pass drug tests to prove they were clean and also did not benefit from the Sochi scheme.

The Olympic anthem will be played in any ceremony for medals won by these athletes, and Russia's official medal count for the games will stand at zero. That is, if Russian President Vladimir Putin allows them to go to the February 9-25 games.

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.

The Russian Olympic Committee will hold a meeting next Tuesday to make a final decision on the matter.

"They'll be called Russian athletes and not some kind of neutrals ... that's very important", Zhukov said.

He said including the word "Russia" in the team name was a key issue.

Zhukov told the French news agency AFP he "apologized" to the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday for the "anti-doping violations" committed in his country in recent years.

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After the 2014 Sochi Games, Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, charged Russian Federation with systematic state-sponsored doping and a cover-up that involved the state security services.

"There is no decision yet", he said when asked if the state will act as a sponsor for athletes allowed to participate in the Olympics.

The sanctions could be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The CEO of the Sochi Olympics, Dmitry Chernyshenko, also had his place on an Olympic panel overseeing the 2022 Beijing Winter Games withdrawn by the IOC.

The country's athletics federation and anti-doping agency were suspended over a separate WADA report in 2015 containing evidence of state-backed doping in track and field. It blames Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow and Sochi testing laboratories, as a rogue employee. It wants the scientist extradited from the United States, where he is a protected witness.

Charges of cheating are not new to Russian athletes. One Russian was cleared.

It has so far handed out lifetime bans to 25 Russian competitors since the start of November and stripped 11 medals, which means Russia has dropped from first in the Sochi medal table, to fourth behind Norway, Canada and the US.

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