6 Dec 2017 19:33

Over half of Russians want athletes protected in doping scandal - poll

MOSCOW. Dec 6 (Interfax) - Almost two-thirds (61%) of Russians believe that the authorities should take active steps to protect athletes in relation to the doping scandal, the Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) has said.

Respondents said there should be stricter control of athletes, coaches, and medics working with athletes (21%) and proposed proving their innocence in court (16%), among other measures.

Another 23% of respondents say nothing should be done in relation to the scandal, since it is better "not to give in to provocations or try to justify ourselves."

In addition, 22% of Russians say it is best to publicly recognize past wrongdoings and punish guilty athletes and officials. Also, 12% found it best "to settle the conflict with the international organizations without any hype," according to a nation-wide telephone poll conducted among 1,800 respondents on December 1-3.

Sociologists say that since the beginning of the doping scandal, the opinion among Russians that violations by the national team were isolated has increased (74% now compared to 62% in March 2016).

A quarter (24%, up from 4% in March 2016) doubt that Russian athletes violated any anti-doping rules. In addition, 42% believe that if such cases take place, they are much rarer than on foreign teams, and 24% think they happen as often as on other teams.

On Tuesday, the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee barred the Russian national team from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang (South Korea) over systemic doping violations.