NOVO-OGARYOVO, December 27. /TASS/. Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) "strongly reject" measures taken against Russian athletes by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), including the ban for clean athletes to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games under the national flag, the Belarusian president said on Tuesday.
"You are aware of our stance, the heads of states present here support it. We strongly reject such treatment of Russian athletes, of Russia," Alexander Lukashenko said during the informal CIS summit.
"We absolutely support you in the sense that doping abuse is inadmissible, but measures should be taken only against those guilty. Without being caught red-handed, they are innocent unless proven guilty and there is no reason to cry foul and use such sanctions," he said.
Lukashenko said his country also faced problems in the run-up to the previous Olympic Games.
"Belarusians also prepared for the Rio Olympics, especially rowers - our strongest athletes. We were disqualified and sanctions were imposed on us. We were able to prove our point in court, but time was lost," he said.
"I’m sure that the same will happen to Russia. You need to know that we support you in this struggle and share your stance on anti-doping, but only those guilty must be punished. If you don’t know who is guilty, don’t politicize this process. This can be viewed only as political sanctions against a country," the Belarusian leader said.
The Executive Board of the IOC announced its decision on December 5 to suspend the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang over multiple doping abuse allegations.
The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia could go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes, or the OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’ They will compete under the Olympic Flag and the Olympic anthem will be played at any ceremony with their participation.