Russian athletes will be allowed to compete as long as they have never committed an "anti-doping rule violation" and undergo "pre-Games targeted tests" among other conditions, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.
The country has been in the spotlight for said allegations since a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency commissioned in 2015 found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian Federation, and accused it of systematically violating anti-doping regulations, an NBC News report stated. Russia could refuse the offer to let its athletes compete without national identity or the playing of the Russian national anthem.
"They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag", the IOC said. The South Korean-born skating legend, is an eight-time gold medalist who obtained Russian citizenship in 2011, after a public falling out with South Korea's skating union.
"We urge active participation of winter sports athletes from all over the world, including Russian athletes", the ministry said.
Bach said he had not spoken with Putin since the sanctions were announced, and suggested Russian athletes and sports leaders would meet Tuesday to discuss competing in Pyeongchang.
"Can't get by without Russia", the pro-Kremlin Izvestia daily headlined its front page, stressing that "Russian Olympic athletes will defend the honour of the Motherland under any banner".
IOC President Thomas Bach said: "Today we gave the Russian delegation the opportunity to express themselves". In Sochi, he showered favors including luxury cars on Russian champions as the national team topped the medals table.
"I can not accept the option that I would compete in the Olympic Games without the Russian flag as a neutral athlete", Medvedeva said in a statement issued by Russia's Olympic Committee (and translated into English by Google Translate).
It said the IOC's actions proved that "you can destroy a whole Olympic country on the basis of indirect evidence and a single witness who was under a criminal investigation and has been treated in a psychiatric hospital".
His lawyer, Jim Walden, told reporters Tuesday, "Today's decision sends a powerful message that the International Olympic Committee has joined the world community in saying that Russia's cheating needs to be severely sanctioned".
"Russia has been punished, including the government in the guise of Mutko, but there exists a way out for those athletes who have nothing to do with this".
His words didn't prevent Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova from saying Wednesday that the punishment of Russia's Olympic program was an attempt to isolate and weaken Russia, saying its critics had resorted to "Plan B", after the country hosted the Sochi Olympics. "Will Russia be at the Olympics but without a flag?"
Whether or not they compete under their own flag, ski jumping and Nordic combined seem unlikely to result in any medals for Russians.