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Russia Will Support Its 'Neutral' Athletes At Winter Olympics, Says Mutko
07 December 2017, 04:43 | Jodi Jackson
Putin won't block athletes from Olympics amid anger at ban
Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the state will never acknowledge the accusation of state-sponsored doping that prevents the Russia team from competing at the Pyeongchang Olympics because it considers it false.
The ban is part of "an effort to force Russia out of major sport" using "unfounded accusations", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow.
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.
"The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect", said IOC President Thomas Bach.
Putin said that taking those thoughts into consideration, the authorities will "definitely not impede anybody or ban anyone, or create conditions for their participation to become impossible".
The International Olympic Committee issued such punishment for systematic doping in previous Olympic Games.
"To participate in the Olympics is an athlete's right".
Bobsleigh federation president Alexander Zubkov, who was stripped of his two gold medals from the 2014 Sochi Games and banned for life from the Olympics last month, said he was shocked by the International Olympic Committee decision.
It's acceptable for Russian athletes to compete under the IOC's terms, two-time gold medalist pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva said, according to Interfax.
"It's just truly disheartening to know that a government and their officials would go to the extreme of putting this much pressure on their athletes to perform, and to get results, and to get medals at the Olympics", she said.
Medvedev was referring to a March presidential election in which incumbent Vladimir Putin is standing for re-election.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday declined to say whether officials involved in organising the Sochi Games, which Russian Federation hosted in 2014, would be punished.
Yuri Nagornykh, who at the time of the offences being committed operated as Mutko's deputy, has also received a lifetime ban, while no Russian official will be accredited for next year's Games in South Korea.
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