Alisher Usmanov urges IOC to allow Russian athletes to compete at Winter Olympics

Russian athletes who are proven to be clean should be allowed to compete under the Russian flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov.

Alisher Usmanov urges IOC to allow Russian athletes to compete at Winter Olympics

Russian athletes who are proven to be clean should be allowed to compete under the Russian flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov.

Russia was banned from February's Games in Pyeongchang earlier this week by the International Olympic Committee for state-sponsored doping, but individual athletes who can prove they have not cheated could compete under the Olympic flag.

Any Russian athlete who does compete must do so as an 'Olympic Athlete from Russia' (OAR), in uniforms bearing that acronym.

Usmanov, who is also president of the International Fencing Federation, has written to the IOC to request that those athletes should be allowed to see their country's flag when competing.

"This approach violates the basic human rights and undermines the trust in law and justice," Usmanov wrote.

"The IOC's decision certainly does put clean Russian athletes on an uneven playing field with athletes from other countries.

"Having gone through the purgatory of the Olympic qualifications clean Russian athletes will (a) have to wait for months for the final decisions by the special commission of IOC, (b) be deprived of the customary support of the NOC (national Olympic committee) of Russia, and (c) most importantly be denied the right to see their national flag and hear their national anthem.

"Athletes dedicate their rather short life in sport for this one moment when they can see their country's flag in the sky and hear the sound of their national anthem.

"Let us give the right at least to the winners of the 2018 Olympics to reach the summit of their dreams and see the flag of their motherland in Pyeongchang's sky."

The ban of Russia follows widespread doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

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