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2018 Winter Games alternative suggested for banned Russian athletes

President of Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov

Moscow, Dec 9 (UITV/IANS)- Russia may organise an alternative tournament to the 2018 Winter Olympics for athletes who decide against participating in South Koreas Games under the neutral-flag status, Alexander Zhukov, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president has said.

Lawmakers from the State Duma, the Russian parliament's lower house, are currently hashing over a response to this week's IOC Executive Board's ruling to bar the Russian national team from the 2018 Winter Olympics as well as to suspend a number of Russian sports officials, reports Tass news agency.

"We probably need to organise alternative competitions and render all the necessary support to athletes, who would decide against going to the Olympics (under the neutral status)," Zhukov said addressing debates at the State Duma on Friday.

An IOC commission, led by Samuel Schmid, established that Russia allegedly employed a system of manipulations with doping samples collected from national athletes.

Based on the commission's findings, the IOC announced its decision on Tuesday night to suspend the Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea's PyeongChang over multiple doping abuse allegations.

The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia could go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes, or OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia'.

"However, we must also support all athletes who decide to go to the 2018 Olympics under the neutral status. We must all understand that it is also a very responsible step to take. It would be absolutely wrong if we failed to provide support for them," Zhukov stated.

"It was an absolutely unjust decision to bar all (Russian) athletes from taking part (in the Olympics), to snatch away the chance of hearing the national anthem and seeing the national flag during the award ceremonies," Zhukov said. "This was a decision emphasising collective responsibility of athletes."