Kremlin regrets CAS ban on Russian athletes

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Moscow, Feb 9 (IANS) The Kremlin on Friday regretted the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) verdict to bar 47 Russian athletes from the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, saying it will continue to furnish support for the athletes in safeguarding their rights, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“As for the CAS’s decision, we certainly regret it… It goes without saying that we will go ahead with support for our athletes in defending their rights,” Peskov said, as quoted by TASS news agency.

In his opinion, “this is not the right moment for pronouncing some loud statements about reforming (the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency).

“It is most important to support our athletes: those who have stayed at home and those who went to South Korea and will be competing there. This is obviously our main task,” he added.

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Peskov said he was confident that alternative ‘Games’ would be successfully held for domestic athletes barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.

Responding to journalists’ questions, the Kremlin spokesman reminded them of the statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he instructed the government to address the issue of arranging the Games for domestic athletes barred from the PyeongChang Olympics.

“In his instruction, the president also spoke about the prize money for the Olympians (for participants in the alternative competitions),” Peskov said.

Peskov declined to comment about the sources of financing for the alternative ‘Games’ for the domestic athletes.

Russia may organise a sports tournament alternative to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in March, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday.

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“I believe the tournament will be held after the 2018 Olympics, in March, in various cities.”

The Russian deputy premier said the alternative ‘Games’ would be open and invitations would be extended to foreign athletes and a prize money fund would be established just like at the 2018 Olympics.

“Of course, the tournament will see the participation of our athletes who were not invited to the Olympics,” Mutko said, adding that Russia would prepare by March to hold the tournament.

On December 5, the IOC Executive Board announced its decision to suspend the whole Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang over multiple doping abuse allegations.

The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia might go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes, or the OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’

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The IOC reserved the right to the final word in regard to Russian athletes, who will go to PyeongChang under the neutral status.

–IANS

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