Korea encourages Russians to compete in PyeongChang as neutrals

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"Without any doubt, we will not declare any blockade, we will not prevent our Olympians from taking part [in the games], if one of them wants to take part in a personal capacity", Putin said in comments relayed by the Russian Olympic Committee and translated by Google Translate.

The punishment is the culmination of a three-year investigation into state-sponsored doping leading up to and during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee "with immediate effect", essentially banning the country from the upcoming Winter Olympics over Russia's system of state-supported cheating by athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. It would be premature, he said, to draw conclusions before officials have spoken to the IOC.

The IOC also made a decision to suspend Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member, while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, sports minister at the time of the Sochi Games, was also banned from any future participation at the Olympics.

In another development on Wednesday, 22 Russians disqualified from Sochi 2014 for doping offences and banned from the Olympics filed appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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"The system is being punished ... the conspiracy is being addressed and sanctioned and if there are clean athletes who can prove they're clean, they still have a chance to compete".

However, IOC stated that doping-free athletes from Russian Federation could still be able to compete at PyeongChang Games as neutral athletes, be in uniforms bearing the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" under the Olympic Flag, and that the Olympic Anthem would be played in any award ceremony.

The IOC's decision was met with an eruption of irate denunciations from Russian officials, who attacked it as unfair and as part of a Western plot. "Each of them has to make a decision of some kind now".

"They are always trying to put us down in everything - our way of life, our culture, our history and now our sport", Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, wrote in a Facebook post. Zhukov said that it was positive that Russian athletes could still participate in Pyeongchang.

These athletes will participate under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia", and their uniform will bear the Olympic flag.

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The ministry issued Zakharova's words along with a slogan that spread on social media Tuesday: "No Russia No Games".

In related news, South Korean-born Russian short track speed skater Victor An said Wednesday he wishes to compete as a neutral athlete.

In truth, the International Olympic Committee could hardly fail to act given the evidence uncovered by the explosive World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sponsored McLaren report and two subsequent International Olympic Committee investigations, which found that Russian athletes had taken part in an elaborate drug cheating programme that reached its zenith at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"I have prepared for this for 4 years".

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