08:19 GMT11 April 2021
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    The statement comes ahead of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision on the participation of Russian athletes in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, who was the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) informant, believes that Russian athletes, who have not been involved in doping, should be allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics at least under a neutral flag.

    "Innocent athletes should not be prevented from participating," Rodchenkov told The New York Times newspaper ahead of the meeting of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is expected to announce its final decision regarding Russia's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    READ MORE: Russia's Investigative Committee Offers to Work With WADA on Rodchenkov Case

    The statement comes after The New York Times published extracts from Rodchenkov's diaries, where he wrote about his discussions with Russian officials, including then-Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and Yuri Nagornykh, the former Russian deputy sports minister, about an alleged system for concealing Russian athletes' anti-doping rule violations.

    READ MORE: Moscow: WADA Informant's Attempts to Hamper Probe Nullify His Credibility

    In 2016, Rodchenkov told the newspaper that at least 15 Russian Olympic winners were part of the alleged doping program, with his testimony serving as the basis for the WADA independent commission's report on doping in Russian sport. Richard McLaren, the head of WADA's independent commission, presented a two-part report on anti-doping violations in Russia, which alleged the existence of a state-supported doping system, that resulted in a ban on the Russian track and field team from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics and a total ban for Russian Paralympic athletes from competing in the 2016 Summer Games and the 2018 Winter Games.

    Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have strongly denied all accusations and ruled out the existence of a state-supported institutionalized doping program in Russia, while admitting that Russian sports did have some doping-related issues.

    According to Russian investigators probing Rodchenkov over the abuse of power during his term as the director of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) from 2009-2013, the WADA informant was the one who gave the doping substances to athletes disguised as vitamins.

    doping scandal, 2018 Winter Olympic Games, WADA, Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia
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