December 12, 2017, 12:25 pm
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Putin allows Russian athletes to compete in Pyeongchang

MOSCOW. — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would not prevent its athletes from competing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics if they wanted to, damping down calls from some Russians for a boycott of the Games.

The IOC on Tuesday banned the Russian team from the Olympics after evidence emerged of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system but left the door open for some Russians to compete as neutrals if they demonstrate they have a doping-free background.

“Without any doubt, we will not declare a blockade, we will not prevent our Olympians from taking part (in the Games), if one of them wants to participate in a personal capacity,” Putin said on state television.

In his first comments since the ban, Putin took aim at Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory whose allegations of state-sponsored doping and a cover-up at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics triggered investigations that ultimately led to the IOC decision. – Reuters
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