MOSCOW, December 4. /TASS/. Russian athletes will be facing a difficult choice in case the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board decides in favor of individual access participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Monday.
"I would like not making early predictions, but the path (of the IOC Executive Board) is to suspend the whole team" Mutko said in an interview with TASS. "They can also offer them (athletes) an individual participation if they wish to prove their dignity to the public, but there are no other options."
"Our (national) flag must be flying at the Games, this is an international competition," he said. "However, in case of the individual invitations scenario each athlete must make a personal decision and it will be a difficult choice."
"Yes, we repeatedly stated that the participation under a neutral flag is inadmissible," Mutko said. "But they (athletes) have been making their way to the Olympics with blood and sweat."
In July 2016, the IOC set up two separate commissions to probe doping abuse allegations in Russian sports as well as the alleged involvement of state officials in manipulations with performance enhancing drugs, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi.
The first of the two commissions is an Inquiry Commission, chaired by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid. The commission is looking into accusations set out in the McLaren report that alleges the existence of a supposed institutional conspiracy in Russia’s summer and winter sports, in which the country’s state officials were allegedly engaged in.
The second investigative body at the issue is a Disciplinary Commission, chaired by IOC Member Denis Oswald. This commission is tasked to address alleged doping uses and tampering of samples concerning the Russian athletes, who participated in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
Based on the outcome of the commissions’ investigations, the IOC is set to decide during its Executive Board’s December 5 session on whether the Russian national team would be cleared to take part in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The upcoming Olympics, which are 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018 and the participation of the entire Russian national team in the event is still doubtful.
The Oswald-led commission had carried out retests of Russian athletes’ doping samples collected at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and, as a result, had already cancelled results of 25 athletes.