Russia Will Not Boycott 2018 Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, SwitzerlandThe International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland

Russia will not boycott next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, even if their athletes are forced to compete under a neutral flag, the Kremlin said on Monday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board is expected to rule on Tuesday that Russians should be banned from taking part under their own flag at Pyeongchang 2018 following allegations of institutionalized doping.

That, in turn, has led to fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin will retaliate by refusing to let other athletes from his country compete.

“No, it is not under consideration,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing in Moscow, December 4, according to Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

The allegations made in two World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-commissioned reports by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren include systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing processes by the Russian government during and subsequent to the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.

Peskov told the briefing that Russia “remains unwilling to accept many decisions concerning our athletes that WADA has made”.

A total of 25 Russian athletes have so far been disqualified from Sochi 2014 after appearing before an IOC Disciplinary Commission chaired by executive committee member Denis Oswald.

A separate commission chaired by former Swiss President Samuel Schmid has been investigating allegations of institutionalized doping in Russia.

They completed their report on Dec. 4 and copies of his verdict were delivered to the IOC Executive Board members in time for their meeting on Tuesday.

 Committed Still

It is the findings of the Schmid Commission which are expected to form the basis of the IOC’s decision.

“We oppose the violation of our athletes’ rights, we are against groundless violations of rights, but at the same time, Russia remains committed to the Olympic ideas, as President Putin said, it is his decision,” Peskov said, according to TASS.

The IOC has already contacted its official uniform supplier Nike to design kit for Russian athletes to wear as neutral athletes.

A system of which Russian athletes are allowed to compete at Pyeongchang 2018 is set to be based on the model used by the International Association of Athletics Federations for this year’s World Championships in London.

The IAAF enforced guidelines which include athletes having to show they were not directly implicated “in any way by their national federation’s failure to put in place adequate systems to protect and promote clean athletes”.

A key criteria expected to be adopted by the IOC is that anyone named on a key database obtained last month by WADA, reportedly containing the names of several thousand Russian athletes allegedly involved in a doping program between January 2012 and August 2015, is not allowed to compete at Pyeongchang 2018.

It will be up to the international federations to rule on which athletes are eligible followed by an IOC vetting process.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints