Russian Athletes Breath Sigh of Relief - IOC Decision Could Have Been Worse

First, the main news not only for today but for the coming days as well. The IOC's decision on the Russian team.

The team is banned from the Olympics. Its members will be able to compete for medals only as neutral athletes with no flag or hymn. IOC banned even those young athletes that were going to make their debut in the Pyeongchang Olympics like for example, world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva.

Our European correspondent Asya Emelianova from Losanna.


The decision wasn't written in advance. Samuel Schmidt's secret report that he's been working on a year and a half was given to Alexander Zhukov, Vitaly Smirnov, and Evgenia Medvedeva in an orderly fashion the day before the hearings. They actually wanted to hear Russia defend its athletes. The IOC decided they are allowed go to the Olympics. They would be wearing a white Olympic uniform, no flag or hymn. Our Olympians would be announced as "athletes from Russia." It could have been worse — just their first and last names.

The word "Russia" is crucial for us, we've been fighting for it. Certainly, what can be more crucial? And if Russia wasn't listed?

Alexander Zhukov, President of the Russian Olympic Committee: "You know, I don't want to speculate on what could have been. There was an option to completely ban our team from participating in the Olympics. Moreover it's important that the IOC wants to put an end to this story. Everyone acknowledges that we've done a great deal of work to fix our anti-doping system. Certainly, the absence of our hymn and flag is a huge con, a huge one".

At the final press conference, Tomas Bach was accompanied by the author of the report, Samuel Schmidt. The President of the IOC phrased the decision and Schmidt — the accusations. The latter are not so numerous. The existence of the Russian state doping program wasn't proven. But there were machinations at play.

That's why the Russian Olympic Committee is temporarily suspended from the IOC. Vitaly Mutko received a life ban from the Olympics. Only athletes with a crystal-clear reputation will be able to go to South Korea. Those who have no doping charges in the past. A special IOC committee will check all the lists.

Thomas Bach, President of IOC: "From now on, the Russian Olympic Committee is temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Only the clean Russian athletes will take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The teams and athletes will be announced as Athletes from Russia".

That's the last Olympics that's been so thoroughly investigated. The IOC would like to put an end to this doping story. On the final day of the Olympics, the ban would be lifted. Our team will have a flag and a hymn marching through the stadium. Evgenia Medvedeva, our strongest figure skater, whose speech everyone at the hearings called sensual and impressive, is sure that it will all work out for our country.

Evgenia Medvedeva, two-time figure skating champion: "Every clean athlete has the right to compete in the Olympics. Excuse me. All my rivals will be able to compete twice and get two medals if they manage to do it. And if there's no Russian team, every Russian athlete will be able to compete only once. I felt it was rather unfair and said it".

- Did they ask you questions?

Evgenia Medvedeva, two-time figure skating champion: I held a huge speech and no-one asked me any questions.

The verdict that some people don't consider to be a compromise must still get approved by Russia. There will be an Olympian meeting on December 12. The athletes will ultimately decide whether they are ready to go to South Korea with no uniform, hymn or flag. Only after the meeting, the final lists will be composed and they too will be thoroughly checked by the IOC.

Asya Emelianova, Ivan Malyshev Vesti, Switzerland, Losanna.