Russia president Vladimir Putin insists the banning of his nation’s competitors will devalue the achievements of medal-winning athletes at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
More than one hundred Russians have so far been barred from the Games, which start on 5 August, including 67 of their 68-strong athletics team. The International Association of Athletics Federation imposed a total ban in November, which was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week.
Such action followed the uncovering of state-sponsored doping programmes, most recently in the form of the World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned McLaren report which revealed the breadth of Russian cheating.
“Your colleagues from other sports powers realise that the value of their medals will be different,” said Putin at a farewell event for Russia’s Rio-bound Olympians in Moscow. “This victory will have a different taste, or no taste at all.
“It is obvious that the absence of Russian competitors, leaders in many disciplines, will lower the intensity of the fight and that means the spectacle at the upcoming events.”
Russia’s fencing, volleyball and triathlon teams became the latest squads to be deemed eligible to take part at the Games after the International Olympic Committee left the decision over participation to the individual sports’ governing bodies.