Russian Federation throws flamboyant Olympic party despite scandals

During the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, only the Russian team out of the 90 countries taking part was not allowed to march under its national flag.

Since the ban, 169 Russian athletes have been cleared by the IOC to compete in all 15 of this year's events under the Olympic flag-more than Team Germany (157) and host South Korea (145).

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov instructed cabinet members to organize alternative games with the same monetary rewards as the ongoing Winter Games, the Vedomosti business daily reported last week.

"The absence of these pure athletes at the Olympic Games not only reduces the level of competition and spectators' interest, but also undermines the basis of equality for all who have won dozens of medals, titles and awards throughout their careers in fair competition", a ROC statement said.

"Work on this issue is underway now and such Games are being arranged", he was cited as saying by state-run TASS news agency.

The IOC in December determined that Russian athletes who proved they were clean would be allowed to compete as neutrals in the Games.

In December, the International Olympic Committee banned 43 Russian athletes for life from the Olympics, but CAS overturned the suspensions of 28 athletes and partially upheld 11 other appeals - decisions International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach described as "extremely disappointing and surprising" last Sunday.

First, the 169 athletes were billed as "Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation", as Russia is not officially being recognized at the games.

That's why the CAS decision, which upheld the IOC's right to decide who could compete at its biannual party, was merely a brief respite in the never-ending war on doping.

The other 32, including three-time Games gold medallist An, were also left off the list of Russians invited to Pyeongchang.

Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation are considered the favorites for gold, with the USA a strong contender to land on the podium.

The team of Russian athletes stands at 168, the fourth biggest contingent at the Games.

Putin added that Russian Federation still needed to continue its fight against doping along with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"By this light show in front of the headquarters of WADA we want to tell the whole world that the only doping among the Russian Olympic team is our support and love", they said.

Breaking the rules could mean the IOC scraps its plan for Russian Federation to march under its own flag at the closing ceremony on February 25 - a symbolic return to the Olympic movement after almost three months. "That was within the IOC's discretion, and they didn't exercise it arbitrarily".

The Russian side, CAS said, acknowledged the International Olympic Committee had the authority to institute this process.

Friday's verdict, he said, is "a small semblance of justice for clean athletes".

The barred Russian athletes, however, are still considering their legal options.

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