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MOSCOW, September 18. /TASS/. All attempts to suspend the Russian national team from the 2018 Olympics over the doping scandal are equivalent to unfair competition, Russian lawmaker Mikhail Degtyarev told TASS on Monday.
Earlier in the day, another twelve national anti-doping agencies backed a call to suspend the Russian team from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang over doping allegations.
"These are attempts to exert pressure on Russia and the International Olympic Committee, this is unfair competition," said Degtyarev, who chairs the State Duma committee on physical culture, sport, tourism and youth affairs.
"I’m sure that athletes whose anti-doping agencies try to exert pressure on Russia by non-sporting methods would not support this. Everyone acknowledges that without Russian athletes sport cannot be full-fledged in principle. So, we should turn a blind eye to this, these national anti-doping agencies go beyond their authority."
On September 14, heads of 16 anti-doping organizations issued a statement calling on the IOC not to allow Russia’s team to take part in the 2018 Olympics. Heads of anti-doping organizations of Austria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the statement. They said Russians may take part in the Games under a neutral flag, but only after a thorough doping control.
By Monday, the number of heads of anti-doping organizations supporting this call grew to 28. The statement was endorsed by agencies from the Bahamas, Barbados, the French community of Belgium, Estonia, Flanders (Belgium), Guatemala, Iceland, Poland, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Spain and Switzerland.
Earlier, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Craig Reedie said that his organization did not share the position by heads of these agencies. International Olympic Committee (IOC’s) Athletes’ Commission Chair Angela Ruggiero also opposed the suspension of Russia’s team.
The XXIII Winter Olympic Games will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.