The absence of a number of Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will “devalue” the medal events, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday at a meeting with the Russian Olympic team.
“It is obvious that the absence of Russian athletes, the leaders in many sports events, significantly reduces the intensity of the competition, and hence makes the upcoming events less spectacular”, Putin said.
“I think that your colleagues from other world’s leading sports powers also understand that the quality of their medals will be different, because it’s one thing to defeat an equal, strong opponent, and quite another – to compete with obviously weaker opponents. Such victory has a very different taste or maybe bad taste”, Putin said.
The recent smear campaign aimed at Russian sports and athletes is riddled with double standards and goes beyond common sense, Russian President added.
“Short-sighted politicians cannot even leave sports alone despite the fact that it brings people together and eliminates existing contradictions between the countries,” Putin said.
The Russian president said he believed that the recent suspension of the national track and field athletes had “gone beyond legal boundaries as well as beyond the point of common sense.”
“The targeted campaign against our athletes included the so-called notorious double standards as well as the principle of collective responsibility, which is totally incompatible with sports, justice and basic norms of [human] rights,” Putin added.
President Putin added that the recent developments could “pose a threat to the principles of equality and mutual respect of the rights of the so-called clean athletes.”
“In fact, this is a revision or an attempted revision of the original ideas put forward by Pierre de Coubertin – the founder of the modern Olympic movement,” Putin added. “In fact this is a blow to all international sports and the Olympic Games in general.”
Russia will not tolerate the suspension of its Olympians with doping-free records and will be seeking justice through lawsuits, Putin went on.
“We cannot agree with indiscriminate suspensions placed on athletes with completely doping-free histories,” he said.
The Russian president said the country “will not tolerate blatant discrimination.”
“This all contradicts the principles of Olympism,” he said. “However, we will be seeking justice only through legal frameworks and in the strict accordance with the Olympic Charter.”
“I am sure that the Russian Olympic Committee will continue defending the interests of our national athletes,” Putin said.
The Russian president also added that despite “enormous pressure” exerted on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “as well as the media’s targeted smear campaign, it [IOC] decided against splitting the Olympic movement.”
Hovewer, Putin added that Russia will bring to responsibility all guilty of doping abuse in national sports despite their ranks and official posts and the country will be further fighting for the doping-free sports.
“We intend not only to hold liable all guilty of doping abuse despite their ranks and posts, but to establish the effective system of doping prevention in sports,” he said.