Russia will have to carefully analyse the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban the country from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games before taking any measures, the Kremlin said on Wednesday. The IOC banned Russia on Tuesday from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games after evidence emerged of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system.
The door was left open, however, for Russians to compete as an “Olympic Athlete of Russia” as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background. “Now, of course, we need to cast aside emotions and quite seriously analyse the decisions taken by the IOC regarding our country before making any judgment on this matter,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
Peskov, who said earlier this week that Russia had no plans to boycott the Pyeongchang Games if the IOC imposed restrictions on its participation, added Moscow wanted to maintain ties with the IOC. “Once again we repeat that the situation is serious and requires deep analysis,” he said. “It wouldn’t be right to give in to emotions.”
Before Tuesday’s IOC decision, more than 20 Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Games were banned for life from the Olympics for having allegedly violated anti-doping rules. The bans came as a result of an IOC investigation into allegations of widespread doping among Russian athletes and tampering with samples by laboratory and security officials at Sochi.
The Kremlin declined to say whether officials involved in organising the Sochi Games would be reprimanded. They include Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, the former sports ministry who was banned from the Olympics for life as part of the IOC decision. Reprimands “can’t be paramount,” Peskov said. “The priority is defending the interests our Russian athletes. And to defend their interests, we need to completely focus all our efforts, and everything else should come in second.”
Mutko, who has yet to address the ban against him publicly, did not answer Reuters calls on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Russian authorities have vehemently denied state involvement in doping and pledged to work with international sports bodies to curb the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs in the country.
Russia’s athletics federation, Paralympic Committee and anti-doping agency RUSADA remain suspended over doping scandals.