MOSCOW, November 8. /TASS/. The New York Time’s article about the possible ban on the Russian anthem at 2018 Winter Olympic Games is at attempt at exerting pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy Vitaly Mutko told TASS.
On Monday, the New York Times alleged that "top officials for the International Olympic Committee are considering a menu of possible penalties against Russia for doping violations, including barring the country’s national anthem at the coming Winter Olympics and keeping its delegation of athletes out of the opening ceremony."
However, the International Olympic Committee later commented on the article saying that "this is all premature speculation before the two Commissions have even completed their work and before due process, to which any individual and organization is entitled, has been followed."
"No need to take such reports into account. It is a provocation, if not an attempt to exert pressure on the IOC. This is an old scenario, we keep seeing it over and over again," Mutko added.
"When the commissions are expected to announce their decisions, either the New York Times or ARD [German TN channel] take the stage. But they are not the IOC’s press service, so how can they say such things?" the Russian deputy prime minister said.
The NYT’s article came out after the announcement of the first decision made by a disciplinary commission led by IOC member Denis Oswald, conducting doping investigations in connection with the Sochi Olympics. On November 1, the commission issued life bans to Russian cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov. A hearing of another four Russian skiers’ cases - Alexei Petukhov, Maksim Vylegzhanin, Yevgeniya Shapovalova and Yulia Ivanova - also took place on October 30 but the decision has not been announced yet.
On November 6, hearings of cases involving Russian gold and bronze medal winning skeleton athletes Alexander Tretyakov and Elena Nikitina, skeleton athletes Olga Potylitsina and Maria Orlova, silver medal winning speed skater Olga Fatkulina, speed skater Alexander Rumyantsev, as well as retired bobsleigh athletes Olga Stulneva and Alexander Zubkov.
Following the investigations conducted by the Oswald Commission and another commission chaired by Samuel Schmid, which has been looking into the possible involvement of the Russian Sports Ministry’s officials in covering up doping violations, a decision will be made concerning the Russian team’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.