newsCO.com.au–Russia to support Winter Olympic athletes

December 12, 2017

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) will support its athletes who choose to compete in next year’s Winter Games in South Korea, according to a draft document.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week banned Russia from the Games in Pyeongchang in February, for what it called “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system. It left the door open for clean athletes to compete as neutrals.

An ROC official said on Monday most Russian athletes still wanted to attend, even as neutrals.

The Russian committee is due to formalise its position on Pyeongchang at a Tuesday meeting, attended by sporting figures including the national men’s hockey team, figure skaters, speed skaters and the presidents of winter sports federations.

Announcing the decision, ROC president Alexander Zhukov said: “All participants were of the same opinion – our sportsmen need to go to Korea, need to compete, achieve victory for the glory of Russia, for the glory of our motherland.”

Zhukov said Russia would do its best to support Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag and hold serious talks with the IOC in the near future to discuss the problems and practicalities of the arrangement

“Russian sportsmen have stated their readiness to take part in the Olympic Games, despite the difficult conditions and decision of the IOC, which is undoubtedly unfair in many ways,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin said last week Russia would not prevent its athletes competing, damping down calls from some for a boycott.

He also reiterated Russia’s insistence there was no state-sponsored doping system in the country.

In the weeks leading up to the IOC ban, more than 20 Russian athletes from the 2014 Sochi Games were banned for life from the Olympics for allegedly violating anti-doping rules.

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