Russian President Vladimir Putin has charged that U.S. officials may have “drugged” a witness in an investigation that led to Russian athletes being banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, a report says.
During a Thursday press conference, the Russian president asked of the witness, “what are they doing with him?” the Washington Examiner reported.
“What drugs are they giving him to make him say what they want him to say?” Putin said of the FBI’s investigators. “This is just ridiculous.”
Russian competitors were banned early in December from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched an investigation into accusations of widespread doping by the Russian teams.
The FBI has kept Grigory Rodchenkov, one of the witnesses who testified about the doping, under its watchful eye to protect his life, officials report. But Putin scoffs at the claim.
Putin, however, maintains that the ban is a political tool being used to hurt his chances of re-election.
“I am sorry, but that is just nonsense,” Putin added on Thursday. “Regarding him being protected by the FBI, this is not an advantage but rather a disadvantage for us, since this means that his actions are controlled by the U.S. intelligence services.”
The Russian leader further charged that the IOC itself has been “intimidated” by the U.S.
“They are under pressure all the time and are even intimidated,” he concluded. “No matter what they say after hearing my words, this is the way it is.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.