Russian President Vladimir Putin asked forgiveness from the athletes because the country was unable to protect their interests during the doping scandal that unfolded ahead of the Olympic games in 2018. This statement was made head of state at a meeting with Russian athletes participating in the Olympics in Pyeongchang, reports RIA Novosti.
“Forgive us for not able to stay out of this,” said Putin, stressing that Russia has always supported the idea of a clean sport. “You and all sports fans should have no doubt that Russia always will be, and were, and will support the idea of clean sport in all senses, in all respects,” said he.
The President also wished the athletes traveling to the Games, good luck and urged them to focus on wrestling. “I would like to wish you, whatever you think about anything that accompanies the preparations for the Olympic games recently, and didn’t think about what I said, and focused on wrestling. So you know that you are, as usual, being followed by hundreds of thousands, millions of fans who love you and hope for your victory,” he said.
On 5 December, the international Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the national team of Russia from participation in the Olympics. Russian athletes not connected with the investigation of the world anti-doping Agency, will be without the national anthem and under the Olympic flag.
Despite the Committee’s statement, promising that “clean” athletes will be able to participate in the Games, a number of leading Russian athletes received invitations to the competition. One of them came biathlete Anton Shipulin, skier Sergey Ustyugov and short-tremist Viktor Antonov, who was not suspected of anti-doping rule violation.
Games will be held in Pyeongchang from 9 to 25 February.