The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday banned the Russian team from the Games after evidence emerged of an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of doping procedures but left the door open for Russians to compete as neutrals if they demonstrate they have a doping-free background.
"Without any doubt, we won't put up any barrier and won't prevent our athletes from participating if they want to compete as individuals", Putin said Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod.
Any Russian athlete who does compete in Pyeongchang must do so as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR), in uniforms bearing that acronym.
Putin noted that there is no boycott on the part of Russian Federation is not expected. According to him, participation at the Olympic games is the right athlete, which should be respected and supported.
While the Kremlin denies the existence of any state-run doping program, Putin appeared to soften criticism of the investigation.
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But the president spoke out against the IOC's stance, saying in a comment reported by R-Sport: "It all looks like an absolutely staged and politically-motivated decision".
"Our preparations continue in earnest and, as with all Games, we will continue to work with our State Department and local organisers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe", USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said. "What criteria the International Olympic Committee will use to invite our athletes, how the process will go and so on", Peskov said.
"I think that this excuse was not used in an honest way, to put it mildly", Putin said without elaborating. He suggested that the U.S.is using the issue as a means to influence the Russian presidential election in March.
"So there are still more questions than answers and they all need to clarified". The "clean" athletes were allowed to participate under the neutral flag. The IOC last month stripped Zubkov of two bobsleigh gold medals he won in Sochi after finding he broke anti-doping rules, a decision he's appealing. "Then punish those who are guilty", Putin said.