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Analysts praise 'brave' International Olympic Committee over Russian Federation ban

Analysts praise 'brave' International Olympic Committee over Russian Federation ban

The long-awaited International Olympic Committee decision punishing Russia for a state-sponsored doping campaign during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, came a little more than two months before the quadrennial skiing, skating and sledding contests unfold at venues in the mountains and along the coast of South Korea. If they go to Pyeongchang, they'll compete under the Olympic flag; if they win medals, their country's anthem won't be played.

"Most of the accusations are based on facts that have not been proven and are largely unfounded", Putin said.

The IOC said it will allow individual Russian athletes to compete as neutrals, though they must still meet strict conditions. The South Korean-born skating legend, is an eight-time gold medalist who obtained Russian citizenship in 2011, after a public falling out with South Korea's skating union.

"Without any doubt, we will not declare any blockade, we will not prevent our Olympians from taking part [in the games], if one of them wants to take part in a personal capacity", Putin said in comments relayed by the Russian Olympic Committee and translated by Google Translate. Putin himself had suggested it would be "humiliation" for Russian athletes to compete without their national symbols.

"I've seen all sorts of reaction from athletes", NPR's Lucian Kim says from Moscow.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday it had received appeals from 22 Russian athletes over the bans, and that they asked for the CAS to rule before the Pyeongchang games begin.

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said more reanalysis of London Games samples will have a "special emphasis on weightlifting". He also noted that it was "very important" that the neutral uniforms that Russian athletes would wear would still have the word "Russia" on them.

Ahead of the IOC's decision, NPR's Lucian Kim visited Moscow's famous Gorky Park to hear what Russians are making of the claims against their country in some of its most revered sports. In Sochi, he showered favors including luxury cars on Russian champions as the national team topped the medals table.

Speaking to Yekaterina Nogerova, whose 6-year-old daughter was skating out on the ice, Lucian says that she says a decision against Russian Federation would be a "catastrophe" for her. Nogerova also said she is upset that the consequences will likely punish athletes and fans, but not people in the government.

It said the IOC's actions proved that "you can destroy a whole Olympic country on the basis of indirect evidence and a single witness who was under a criminal investigation and has been treated in a psychiatric hospital".

Schmid's commission said it had confirmed a system described in the investigations conducted by the Canadian lawyer, Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency, that found the head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory had secretly switched out dirty samples from Russian athletes during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with the help of the country's FSB intelligence service.

The team has since been stripped of 11 of the 33 medals it won in Sochi as a result of doping violations.