Kremlin hails IOC Olympic green light, but conditions grate

Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:31pm EDT
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By Dmitry Solovyov and Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Monday hailed a decision by the International Olympic Committee not to ban Russia's entire team from the Rio Olympics over doping allegations, but government officials said the strings attached to the IOC's ruling were unfair.

The IOC threw Russian sportsmen and women a lifeline on Sunday ignoring a call from the World Anti-Doping Agency to impose a blanket ban, ruling instead that decisions on whether individual competitors could compete at Rio would be left to the international sports federations.

That prompted a sigh of relief in Moscow where President Vladimir Putin had spoken of a possible schism in the Olympic movement and complained of what he said was growing Cold War-style political interference in sport.

The scandal, which centers on allegations that the Russian government and FSB security service have systematically covered up doping in sport, has hurt Putin's attempts to tie Russia's sporting prowess to what he says is his country's resurgence on the world stage, but his own ratings look safe.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said on Monday that Putin would not be attending the opening ceremony of the Rio games, but that the Kremlin was pleased with the IOC ruling.

His comments echoed those of other senior officials who said they believed that common sense had prevailed over what they said looked like a witch hunt.

"Certainly, we welcome the main decision which allows so-called clean athletes to take part in the Olympic Games, given the permission of international (sports) federations," Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

The IOC ruling came with a twist however that angered some Russian government officials, stipulating that any Russian athletes sanctioned for doping in the past would not be eligible to go to Rio.   Continued...

Members of Russia's Olympic team arrive at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2016. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares