Monday, 11 December, 2017

Capitals superstar Ovechkin believes Russians should still participate in the Olympics

No Russian Sputnik Vitaly Podvitski No Russian
Kristopher Love | 07 December, 2017, 06:18

Later in the day, President Vladimir Putin said Russian Federation would allow athletes to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics under a neutral flag, after the country was banned from the Games over a state-orchestrated doping programme.

Ovechkin said he's "pretty sure" the Russian hockey team will still compete in the Olympics, though they will have to do so as a neutral team, and he agrees with that decision.

Key Russian skiers from the 2014 Olympics have already been banned by the International Olympic Committee for doping, with four of Russia's five medals stripped.

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.

Putin said the ban looked like "an absolutely staged and politically motivated decision".

Pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva told TASS: "Addressing our athletes, I want to say that they should absolutely not despair and should continue training for the games".

Schmid's commission said it had confirmed a system described in the investigations conducted by the Canadian lawyer, Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency, that found the head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory had secretly switched out dirty samples from Russian athletes during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with the help of the country's FSB intelligence service. "I am proud of my country; it is a great honor for me to represent it at the games". Putin himself had suggested it would be "humiliation" for Russian athletes to compete without their national symbols.

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

Nevertheless, the IOC President Thomas Bach "left the door open for Russia" by allowing athletes to participate in some form, even with the word "Russia" on their uniforms, the newspaper wrote.

Ivan Melnikov, First Deputy Speaker in Russia's parliament on Tuesday called the ban "unthinkably harsh", the news agency Interfax reported.

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.

"What matters is that the commission wrote in its conclusions that there was no system of state support of doping in Russian Federation".

The results are not based only on testimony by Russia's former anti-doping chief-turned-whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov.

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

Elite figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva, one of Russia's most famous athletes and the reigning world champion, vented the frustrations of many would-be Olympians who say they thought they were doing enough by being "clean".

Nations in the past have been banned from previous Olympics, most notably South Africa during the years it enforced its racially discriminatory apartheid system of government.