Vladimir Putin has claimed that the Russian athletes who have been banned from the Rio Olympics are victims of "discrimination" and "double standards", despite the overwhelming evidence of systematic, government-sanctioned doping in Russia.
The Guardian reports that, speaking to Russian athletes in an address at the Kremlin on Wednesday afternoon, Putin asserted that the country "will not put up with" their track and field athletes being prohibited from competing at this summer's Games. Russia's remaining eligible contestants were in the audience, as were many of those who are currently banned.
Putin went on to claim that the doping scandal was a deliberate campaign targeting Russian athletes, while also suggesting that the Olympics would be less of a spectacle without banned Russian contenders. He told the assembled athletes that "fellow competitors from other sporting powers must realise that the value of their medals will be different… their victory will have a different taste, or no taste at all."
Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee announced that it would not be issuing a blanket ban on Russian athletes competing in Rio. The decision to disqualify Russian competitors is now up to each individual sporting federation, though some have already moved to enforce a ban.
The International Association of Athletics Federations' decision to sanction Russian track and field athletes followed evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia, as uncovered by the World Anti-Doping Agency. That decision has been reinforced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who comprehensively dismissed Russia's appeal against the ban.