The immediate reaction from many athletes after the International Olympic Committee’s decision was this: Will Russia compete at all?
Russia was likely to be a medal factor in Pyeongchang in several sliding sports, primarily men’s bobsled, men’s skeleton, women’s skeleton and men’s luge.
U.S. veteran luger Chris Mazdzer said many Russians on the World Cup circuit had told him in recent weeks that they expected a full ban, and he’s wondering if President Vladimir Putin could decide to boycott.
“Putin could just say, ‘You can’t compete,’ and they won’t,” Mazdzer said.
Erin Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic luge bronze medalist, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Russians weren’t in Pyeongchang at all.
“Russia is such a proud nation,” Hamlin said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they were not allowed to.”
Olympic skeleton bronze medalist Matt Antoine was wrong, and was thrilled.
The American has been very outspoken in his criticism of how the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency has handled sanctioning Russia and its athletes for their roles in the state-sponsored doping scandal in Sochi.
He was “truly in shock” when he heard the IOC ruling that will bar Russia from Pyeongchang and allow clean Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic Flag.
“It is without a doubt the correct decision and the only option that allows for athletes, nations, and fans to continue to believe in the Olympic movement,” Antoine said.
Antoine said the decision was bold, and that athletes are celebrating the IOC’s stance.
“Dedicated athletes around the world thank you,” Antoine said.
More reactions from U.S. Olympic hopefuls are below.
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