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Wisconsin Olympic athletes react to Russian ban

Posted at 9:36 PM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 23:49:52-05

A stunning decision from International Olympic Committee banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

This comes after the IOC finds evidence of widespread doping of its athletes. The IOC said clean athletes can compete but not under the country's flag or in their uniform. 

It is drawing reactions from Wisconsin athletes including four-time Olympic Speed Skater David Cruikshank. He coaches speed skaters and is married to one of the most decorated female Olympic athletes Bonnie Blair.

"It's unfortunate for the sport cause my wife and I were Olympians and you want to compete against the best in the world," Cruikshank said. "Sports is about learning how to compete and learning how to work hard, learning how to have dedication. Not taking short cuts."

Cruikshank said this leaves a big question in his sport: Will the defending world champion Russian speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov compete even though he has had doping violations in the past?

"Taking him out of the running in the men's 500 meters and 1000 is a big deal," Cruikshank said.

But questions do not just swirl around specific athletes but entire teams including the Russian Hockey Team.

Milwaukee Admiral player Bobby Butler played pro hockey in Russia last year. He has hopes of making the US Olympic Team and he feels for his Russian friends who want the same.

"It is just not fair for the ones that are competing clean and the ones that work hard," Butler said.

On top of that, the US versus Russia in hockey is considered one of the great rivalries in sports. 

"It is just something special and you were hoping it would be something like that again this year," Butler said.