Vladimir Putin says Russia will not force athletes to boycott the 2018 Winter Olympics and denies systematic doping

The president announced he will run for re-election next year and took the opportunity to respond to the IOC's ban over the doping scandal

Lawrence Ostlere
Wednesday 06 December 2017 16:46 GMT
Vladimir Putin announces his intention to run for a fourth consecutive term in office
Vladimir Putin announces his intention to run for a fourth consecutive term in office (Getty)

Vladimir Putin has ruled out the possibility of Russia boycotting the 2018 Winter Olympics and will allow the country's athletes to compete under the Olympic flag.

On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee banned the Russian association from the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in the face of overwhelming evidence of state-sponsored systematic doping which implicated thousands of Russian athletes.

But the IOC stopped short of blocking all Russian athletes from participation, offering the chance for some to compete as neutral athletes under the tag 'Olympic Athletes from Russia', and this concession appears to have placated the president.

"Without any doubt we will not declare any kind of blockade," Mr Putin said. "We will not block our Olympians from taking part, if any of them wish to take part as individuals. They have been preparing for these competitions for their whole careers, and for them it's very important."

The statement came as Putin announced his intention to run for a fourth consecutive term, having been in office since 2000. The decision by the IOC to punish Russia over the doping scandal, the existence of which Putin once again denied, is likely to strengthen his default position that the world is united against Russia as he seeks to maintain power.

“Most of the accusations are based on evidence which has not been proven and is largely unfounded. [They] are based on testimony of a man whose moral and ethical values and mental state raise many question,” Mr Putin added, in reference to Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower at the centre of the scandal who has gone into hiding.

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