Putin says Russian Federation won't boycott 2018 Olympics despite 'politically motivated' ban

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday banned the Russian team from the Games after evidence emerged of an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of doping procedures but left the door open for Russians to compete as neutrals if they demonstrate they have a doping-free background.

"We will definitely not be announcing any sort of blockades and will not be impeding the participation of our athletes if any of them chose to take part in the Olympics under the neutral status", Putin was quoted by the state news agency TASS.

Russian athletes will be able to compete under the Olympic flag and under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia", but Russian uniforms, the country's flag and its anthem will all be absent - although IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on Wednesday that the flag could make a return at the closing ceremony if Russian athletes play ball during the Games.

Russian athletes have also responded, but focused more on what should happen with coming events than their peers who have committed the doping acts: Svetlana Zhurova, a Russian ice skating Olympic champion, said clean athletes should be allowed to compete as well as be allowed to do so under the Russian flag; Alexei Voevoda, a Russian bobsledder and Olympic champion, said athletes in the past were banned for a few years already, and that banning athletes for life is not in the spirit of sports. "This is why we say that it is too early for emotional displays, while a lot of work should be done with the International Olympic Committee to clarify all these questions", the Russian presidential spokesman said. Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Rodchenko, who the Kremlin calls "a turncoat", although he fears worse things: Two other senior Russian anti-doping officials died suddenly within weeks of each other in early 2016 as the scandal broke.

"An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything", IOC President Thomas Bach insisted Tuesday at a news conference to announce the sanctions.

Mr. Peskov said it would be wrong to jump to conclusions until Russia's athletes had met and the International Olympic Committee had been contacted.

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. "But the fate of our athletes and preserving our place in the Olympic family is more important", wrote the Sport Express daily.

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It is a win for the country that the word "Russia" is retained in the title "Olympic Athlete from Russia" or OAR.

"I strongly suspect the total number of tests will be 20,000 by the time we get to the Games themselves", said Richard Budgett, IOC Medical and Scientific Director.

"For us the athletes' interests have always been the priority", TASS news agency quoted Mutko as saying late on Wednesday.

'This is sport, damn it!'

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Tensions have been heating up on the Korean Peninsula after a two-month lull, with North Korea launching a missile last week that experts said showed the capability of hitting much of the continental United States.

Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, condemned the decision as "sporting racism, political racism". Crushing our great country Russian Federation?

"Grigory Rodchenkov is the flawless traitor", wrote tabloid daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.

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