The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected appeals by 45 Russian athletes and two coaches challenging the decision of the IOC to exclude them from the Olympics.
"As a former sportsman I am astounded with the recent decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport [on January 9]. It is necessary to punish those who are not clean, but banning athletes with a sterling reputation in sports is discrimination. That means whenever the IOC doesn't like an athlete's nationality, the athlete can be excluded. Even more disturbing is the fact that even CAS wouldn't be able to protect athletes, because its opinion apparently no one takes into account anymore," Galavtine said.
"I think a problem [with doping] exists in every country, but what we are witnessing now is an attempt to get rid of those who can win medals. They have decided that Russia won't win any medals this year," Galavtine said.
What is happening to Russian athletes is very unfortunate, he said.
"Especially stripping of medals — that is one of the worst things ever to happen to an athlete who trains for five to six hours a day, adheres to the rhythm, tries to cultivate athletic values in others — such as tolerance, brotherhood, et cetera. And then their whole world gets ruined in one or two days, because this whole story contradicts the values they stand up for," Galavtine said.
He urged all athletes to remain courageous and expressed the hope that measures will be taken soon to rectify the decisions made by a number of institutions to make sure Russian sport doesn't lose ground. Right now, Galavtine said, no athlete can be sure they are safe.
The Olympic Games have just begun. The IOC has so far invited 169 Russian athletes to compete in the games, but a number of leading Russian athletes still have not received an invitation.