Moscow (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denounced sanctions against Russia for doping in sports ahead of a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing during the Winter Olympics.
In an interview with Chinese media, Putin denied that his government orchestrated a massive doping program at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, revelations that prompted a series of sanctions from international sports bodies.
“Russia has been and remains committed to traditional Olympic values,” Putin said in an interview with China Media Group Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Shen Haixiong.
“We oppose the politicization of sport and attempts to make it an instrument of pressure, unfair competition or discrimination,” he said, according to a transcript of the interview released by the Kremlin.
Russia was discovered to have orchestrated a state-sponsored doping program during the Sochi Winter Games and was subsequently banned from international competitions.
Russian officials, including Putin, are banned from attending competitions unless invited by the head of state of the host country. Chinese leader Xi invited Putin to attend.
“The practice of ‘collective punishment’ is unacceptable for crimes committed by individuals,” Putin said.
Russian athletes are allowed to compete as neutrals in the Olympics – without the Russian flag or anthem – if they can prove their doping record is clean.
The team competes under the name Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
Beijing and Moscow have denounced a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics by several countries over what Western governments see as China’s widespread rights abuses.
Putin was the first foreign leader to confirm his attendance at Friday’s opening ceremony.
The two leaders are due to meet in the Chinese capital on Friday as their countries pursue closer ties in the face of growing criticism from the West.
© 2022 AFP