Putin won't block athletes from Olympics amid anger at team ban

Jake Rudnitsky, Bloomberg News on

Published in Olympics

The Russian team has been stripped of 11 of the 33 medals it won at the $50 billion Sochi Games, the most expensive in history, because of doping violations, knocking it from first to fifth place in the overall medals ranking.

Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, who was suspended by the IOC, apologized at Tuesday's hearing "for violations of anti-doping rules that were allowed in our country." The new generation of Russian athletes shouldn't be held responsible or "made to feel like outcasts" at the Olympics "without a national identity, anthem or flag," he said.

"Every Russian athlete should decide on his own whether to go under a neutral flag," Alexander Zubkov, who competed in four Olympics and carried the Russian flag at Sochi's opening ceremony, told The IOC last month stripped Zubkov of two bobsleigh gold medals he won in Sochi after finding he broke anti-doping rules, a decision he's appealing.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters it's too soon to discuss the fate of Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned by the IOC from all future Olympics after being implicated in the doping scandal as sports minister during the Sochi Games. Mutko, who denies involvement and was promoted by Putin after the scandal emerged, is now in charge of organizing next year's FIFA soccer World Cup in Russia.

--With assistance from Henry Meyer and Jack Farchy


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