Russia says no plan to boycott Olympics after doping scandal
Russia has no plan to boycott the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) imposes restrictions on the country’s participation over alleged state-sponsored doping, the Kremlin said on Monday.
The IOC is set to decide on Tuesday on Russia’s participation as more than 20 Russian athletes have been banned from the Olympics for life over doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Games.
“No, it’s not being discussed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of a possible Russian boycott in a conference call with reporters.
“We are against the infringement of our athletes’ rights, the unjustifiable infringement of rights. But at the same time Russia remains committed to the ideals of Olympism.”
Peskov added that Russia’s decision not to boycott was made by President Vladimir Putin and was aimed at “preserving all possible channels of cooperation and dialogue with the IOC, as well as with other international sports organisations”.
The IOC has been re-testing all Russian athletes’ samples from the 2014 Games following disclosures by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s suspended anti-doping laboratory, of a scheme to cover up home competitors’ positive samples.
The bans on Russian athletes came as a result of an IOC investigation into widespread doping by Russian athletes and sample-tampering by laboratory and security officials at the Sochi Games. Russian sports authorities have vowed to appeal against the suspensions.
Despite repeated calls for cooperation with international bodies to help rid Russia of doping, the authorities have never acknowledged the state’s role in the scandal.
Russia’s Paralympic Committee, athletics federation and anti-doping agency RUSADA remain suspended over doping issues.