In banning Russia, IOC does the right thing, for once

The 2018 Winter Olympics logo

Schmid's commission said it had confirmed a system described in the investigations conducted by the Canadian lawyer, Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency, that found the head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory had secretly switched out dirty samples from Russian athletes during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with the help of the country's FSB intelligence service.

Bach stated that he had "taken note" of Putin's announcement, the International Olympic Committee president adding: "I hope and I'm confident that the clean Russian athletes will seize this opportunity to participate at the 2018 Winter Games to represent a new generation of clean athletes".

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said Russian Federation would allow athletes to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics under a neutral flag, after the country was banned from the Games over a state-orchestrated doping programme.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would not prevent its athletes from competing at the Games if they wanted to, damping down calls from some Russians for a boycott of the Games. "We can see it, and for me there is no doubt about it", he said, speaking to workers at an automotive plant in Nizhny Novgorod where he also announced his intention to seek reelection at the upcoming 2018 elections. "Each of them has to make a decision of some kind now".

Bach said on Tuesday, however, that the situation was different now. "One should not be carried away by emotions".

In addition to the 2018 ban for Russia's representation as a country, the IOC fined the Russian Olympic Committee $15 million and suspended its president, Alexander Zhukov, as an IOC member. Furthermore, the Russian national anthem won't be played if they manage to win a medal. "But the fate of our athletes and preserving our place in the Olympic family is more important", wrote the Sport Express daily. "That's the paper that we signed that says we would be banned no matter what".

The IOC "chose one of the harshest options it was considering but still not the harshest of all", which would have been a total ban, wrote Kommersant business daily.

Zhukov admitted that there were some positives, namely that clean Russian athletes can still compete, albeit under the neutral Olympic Flag, bearing the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR). "It gives strength and inspires me during performances".

But IOC President Thomas Bach said, "An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything".

At the Kremlin, Peskov said questions remain about how the ban would be enacted. It would be premature, he said, to draw conclusions before officials have spoken to the IOC.

There were indications though that certain elements of the International Olympic Committee decision had been sufficient sweeteners to make the ban palatable to Russian Federation.

"They are always trying to put us down in everything - our way of life, our culture, our history and now our sport", Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, wrote in a Facebook post. "But time and again, they failed to take us down, be it in a world war, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, or sanctions".

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