Fencing's Russian boss attacks flag ban at Olympics

Lausanne (AFP) –


The Russian boss of fencing's ruling body has attacked the ban on his country's flag at the Pyeongchang Games as contradicting "the principles of the Olympic movement".

Alisher Usmanov told IOC president Thomas Bach that innocent athletes "shall not be punished and put down to (their) knees".

The Russian oligarch was giving his reaction to the IOC's decision on Tuesday to ban sporting superpower Russia from the Games in South Korea over state-sponsored doping.

According to Usmanov, the IOC's decision "violates the basic human rights and undermines the trust in law and justice".

The ban came with a caveat that individual Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag subject to strict conditions.

Should a Russian athlete win gold it will be the Olympic rather than Russian flag and anthem used at the medal ceremony.

In his letter Usmanov urged Bach to let every 2018 Olympics winner "reach the summit of their dream and see the flag of their motherland in Pyeongchang's sky".

The IOC has said that if Russian athletes competing at the Games abide by all the conditions then it might allow the Russian flag to be used at the closing ceremony.