IOC to decide if Russia can go to Olympics

Russia is widely expected to face punishment over allegations of state-sponsored doping, which it vehemently denies, when the IOC meets Tuesday to decide on the country’s participation in the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

“We are hoping that sanity wins the day,” Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s vice premier and former sports minister, said ahead of the session in the Swiss city of Lausanne, where a press conference announcing the outcome is scheduled for 18:30 GMT.

Mutko also spoke out against imposing “collective responsibility” on innocent Russian athletes.

Various scenarios have been laid out by journalists familiar with the IOC process, which will conclude with a 14-strong IOC panel hearing the results of two separate investigations – one into violations at Russia’s home winter Olympics, and the other concerning the involvement of state officials in covering up and encouraging doping violations over a period of years.

These range from an outright ban on Russian athletes in South Korea in February, to a fine, to a complete dismissal of all charges. The most likely, however, is thought to be allowing Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag, where they will not participate in the opening ceremony, wear distinctive uniforms, or have their national anthem played if they rise to the podium.

“Of all my achievements in sport, representing Russia at the Olympic Games was by far the most important and proudest; I cannot imagine that feeling would be the same if I was asked to compete under the neutral flag,” Evgeni Plushenko, Russia’s four-time gold-winning medalist figure skater told Around the Rings website. “To ask our clean athletes to do this would be unfair on them and all their competitors who in some way would feel that the competition and Olympic spirit would have been devalued.”


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