Putin: Russia won't boycott

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The IOC on Tuesday banned the Russian team from the Olympics after evidence emerged of an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system but left the door open for some Russians to compete as neutrals if they demonstrate they have a doping-free background.

Any Russian athlete who does compete in Pyeongchang must do so as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR), in uniforms bearing that acronym.

The Kremlin leader said a final decision on Russia's stance regarding the IOC ban would be made at a meeting of Russian Olympic authorities in the coming days. Numerous athletes "have prepared all their lives for this competition", and officials will have to study the details of the International Olympic Committee's decision on Russian Federation, he said. According to him, participation at the Olympic games is the right athlete, which should be respected and supported. "We will not prevent our Olympic athletes from taking part if anyone wants to take part in a personal capacity". "What criteria the International Olympic Committee will use to invite our athletes, how the process will go and so on", Peskov said.

The participation of USA athletes in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea's Pyeongchang is still an "open question" against the backdrop of the North Korea-related tensions in the region, Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said.

The statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would not boycott the event despite the ban over a state-orchestrated doping programme, assuaging fears Russia could spurn the Games entirely.

Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, who was suspended by the IOC, apologized at Tuesday's hearing "for violations of anti-doping rules that were allowed in our country".

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games will take place in Pyeongchang from February 9 to February 25.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters it's too soon to discuss the fate of Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned by the International Olympic Committee from all future Olympics after being implicated in the doping scandal as sports minister during the Sochi Games. "Then punish those who are guilty", Putin said.

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