The former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, who’s testimony on the alleged state-sponsored doping system triggered the wave of sanctions against Russia, says that the country’s athletes should only compete in PyeongChang under a neutral flag.
In a recent interview with the New York times the fugitive doctor, who has been living in the US since fleeing Russia at the end of 2015, said that “innocent athletes should not be prevented from participating” in the upcoming Games in South Korea. He hastened to add, however, that all Russian national emblems should be barred from the games.
Rodchenkov, the catalyst for the doping frenzy surrounding Russia, supplied the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) with information on an alleged state-run doping program which he, in his own words, operated for years. His testimony formed the basis for the WADA-sanctioned reports by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, which led to the bans of Russian track and field team from the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, as well as a blanket ban of the Russian team from the Paralympic Games the same summer.
Rodchenkov’s testimony has also been used as a part of the IOC Disciplinary Commission, chaired by Denis Oswald, which has led to a ban of 25 Russian Olympic team members, and counting, from taking part in any further Games, and the annulling of their Sochi records.
On Monday, Russian sports outlet “Sovetskiy Sport” also reported that Russian athletes unmarred by doping will be permitted to compete in South Korea under a neutral flag, citing their sources in the IOC. Earlier, Russian sports officials including the incumbent sports minister, Pavel Kolobkov, called possible performance in South Korea without the national flag and anthem as unacceptable and contradictory to the fundamental principles of the Olympic movement.
Russia’s participation in the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang will be discussed on Tuesday, at the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, at which the Olympic governing body will consider possible sanctions (if any) which might be imposed on the Russian national squad.