Should a Russian athlete win a gold medal in the upcoming 2018 Olympic Games, they may not be hearing their national anthem during the medal ceremony and they may not even be wearing their national colors on the podium.
The New York Times reports the International Olympic Committee is considering banning the Russian national anthem and requiring Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag as punishment for the nation's alleged widespread doping program, involving about 1,000 athletes.
Today the Russian news service TASS reported that an IOC spokesperson described the Times report as "premature speculation," noting that the IOC has not completed its deliberations.
Over the weekend, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said that it would be unacceptable for Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag.
"A neutral flag? The head of state has clearly defined his position by saying that those are totally inadmissible things for our country. When athletes competed under a neutral flag in some sports and disciplines, we did not object it as they were able to maintain their skills and take part in qualifications," Mutko told TASS.
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