A spokesman for the Kremlin has said that Russia will continue to defend its athletes against doping allegations. The statement came as the IOC board was meeting to discuss a possible Olympic ban on Russian athletes.
Speaking to reporters in a conference call on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow will defend its athletes against doping allegations contained in a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that was released last year. At the same time though, he stressed that the Kremlin was determined to maintain good relations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"We intend to defend the interests of our athletes, of the Russian Federation, to remain committed to the ideals of Olympism and preserve all ties with the IOC, and through these ties the problems that have arisen will be resolved," Peskov said.
Peskov previously said that Russia was not planning to boycott the Olympics if the IOC imposed restrictions on the country's participation at the Winter Games, which are to open in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on February 9.
IOC executive board meets
Peskov's latest statement came as the IOC executive board gathered in Lausanne to discuss how to respond to evidence of state-sponsored doping at the highest level of Russian sports, which was outlined in the WADA-commissioned report compiled by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren.
The executive board was to be presented with a report from one of two commissions set up to deal with the issue and the IOC's German president, Thomas Bach, was expected to announced what, if any, sanctions would be imposed on Russia later in the day.
Anti-doping activists are demanding that the IOC impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing in Pyeongchang, but there has been speculation that it could opt for a softer option. Among the possible sanctions are a fine or allowing clean Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag.
Over the past few weeks the IOC has issued lifetime bans to 25 Russian athletes who competed at the Sochi Games, based on the reanalysis of doping test samples from 2014. Among them is Olga Zaitseva, who won silver in the women's biathlon relay in Sochi.
pfd/em (Reuters, dpa)