Putin: Olympic ban on Russian athletes is result of political plot
By Andrew Osborn and Denis Dyomkin
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said a shadowy political plot had succeeded in unfairly stripping some Russian sportspeople of the right to compete at the Rio Olympics over doping allegations and promised to defend Russia's tarnished sporting reputation.
Addressing members of Russia's Olympic team in the Kremlin on Wednesday, Putin said a decision by global sporting organizations to ban Russian track-and-field athletes and sportspeople in everything from swimming to rowing flew in the face of common sense and legality.
"The deliberate campaign targeting our athletes was characterized by so-called double standards and opted for the idea of collective responsibility, which is not compatible with sport, justice, or the basic norms of law," said Putin.
"It is an attempt to apply the rules which unfortunately dominate in geopolitics to the sporting world," he said, hitting out at what he called "short-sighted political schemers."
With Russia months away from parliamentary elections and stuck in an economic crisis, the scandal, which centers on allegations the Russian government and the FSB security service covered up doping for years, has rocked the Russian sports world and tarnished Putin's showcase 2014 winter Olympics.
But his tactic of pinning the blame on a shadowy plot, which he has previously suggested emanates in the West, taps into voters' patriotism and analysts say the imbroglio is unlikely to hurt his stratospheric ratings.
THE RUSSIAN CHARACTER Continued...