Olympics - Reaction to decision to ban Russia from Pyeongchang Games

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Reaction to the International Olympic Committee’s decision on Tuesday to ban Russia from next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games: World Anti-Doping Agency President Craig Reedie said in a statement: “WADA believes that the IOC has taken an informed decision to sanction Russia for its involvement in institutionalised manipulation of the doping control process before, during and after the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.”

“The Agency also welcomes the decision to establish a panel that will determine criteria for the inclusion of Russian athletes under a neutral flag. It must be proven that these athletes have not been implicated in the institutionalised scheme and have been tested as overseen by the panel.”

Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, author of last year’s WADA report, said in a statement: “I congratulate the IOC for its decision... The sports community is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring athletes benefit from an even playing field and drug-free competition.

“In looking ahead, we need to change the culture of sport from a win at all costs mentality to one that endorses fair competition. Success depends on the implementation of a multifaceted plan where everyone, from athletes’ entourages including coaches, trainers and medical professionals to athletes themselves play their role.”

Russian ex-NHL player Ilya Kovalchuk, who now plays for SKA St Petersburg, told to R-Sport news agency: “We must go to the Olympics. To refuse would be to give in. We all perfectly understand that the IOC decision is pure politics and we understand against whom it is directed. It was clear that there would be such a decision. But if the athletes go there, it will unite the country. All clean athletes must go. For many it will be their last Games and they won’t have another chance to make it to the Olympics.”

Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency USADA, said in a statement:

“Over the past three years, a high stakes game of chicken has been played between those willing to sacrifice the Olympic ideals by employing a state-directed doping program to cheat to win and, on the other side, athletes unwilling to stand silent while their hopes and dreams were stolen and the Olympic Games hijacked.

“Today the IOC (International Olympic Committee) listened to those who matter most – and clean athletes won a significant victory.”

President of Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov on state television. “The IOC made an important decision on Russia’s participation at the 2018 Olympics. The decision, I’ll say right away, is contradictory. There are positive and negative sides. The IOC has allowed all clean athletes in all sports.”

U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw: “It demonstrates a strong commitment to the importance of clean sport and the support of clean athletes. On behalf of our athletes, we have a fundamental obligation to fight for fairness in sport, to advocate for the health and welfare of athletes and to protect the image of our sport.”

Alexander Zubkov, president of the Russian bobsleigh federation, told Reuters: “I am simply shocked by what is happening and what happened and by (IOC president) Thomas Bach’s decision regarding our country and our athletes.”

U.S. broadcaster NBC: “We fully support today’s IOC decision, which levels significant sanctions against the guilty, but also provides a path for clean athletes to compete in Pyeongchang.”

Sports marketing guru Patrick Nally told Reuters: “The IOC will be better suffering the criticism of WADA and of the world’s media rather than take on an all-out war with Russia.

“The Russians have always been one of the Olympics’ biggest supporters. A Winter Olympics without any Russians would be a total irrelevance.

“The IOC has to work with Russia to find a solution - not go to war with Russia.

“You need to look forward, not just cut them off now. A totally blanket ban of Russian athletes would not be the right message.”

American Olympic biathlete and cross country skier Sarah Konrad, told Reuters: “Finally”

The Pyeongchang Organising Committee said in a statement: “We accept and respect the decisions of the IOC Executive Board that Russia may compete under a neutral flag.”

Russian curling federation president Dmitry Svishchev, told Reuters:

“I consider that the IOC’s decision is unprofessional. I am profoundly convinced that it was made under pressure. Someone needed Russia not to participate in the Games. Decisions like these need to be made by people with very serious evidence. They didn’t have this evidence.”

U.S. Senator John McCain in a statement: “(The decision) is a welcome step in serving justice to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin’s government for its elaborate doping scheme in 2014.”

“FIFA should add the IOC’s decision to the list of reasons why the 2018 World Cup should not be held in Russia.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry, Steve Keating, Ossian Shine, Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber and Rory Carroll; Compiled by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis