Among its selection of state-of-the-art fitness and sports accessories, the ROC store stocks Putin-themed a “mood-lifting” kettlebell – called ‘Leader’ – bearing the facial features of the Russian president.
Manufacturer heavymetalsports.ru advertises the 16kg kettleball as “for real patriots”, saying that customers admit “It’s impossible to cut corners in the gym, when Big Brother is watching you!”
The description of the equipment on their website reads: “Now anyone can acquire their very own ‘Leader’ for workouts. This kettlebell will help you achieve real leadership on the hard road of bodybuilding. With it’s own original look, it lifts your mood and motivates [you] to train more, better and harder!
“Be the first to exceed yourself, and then all other opponents…It will help to smash any obstacles on the way to your goal!”
The company claims the The ‘Leader’ kettlebell is “ideal for workouts and fits into any interior thanks to its original, stylish look” would be the “ideal present for a man.”
Those wanting to personalize their quirky workout piece can also order a Putin kettlebell in any color and even add a name engraving of their choice. But the perfect body comes at a price, and having the privilege of pumping iron with Putin’s face will set you back 6,450 rubles ($110).
On Thursday, the Russian leader held his annual media Q&A, of which sport was a regular theme. Putin defended Russian athletes affected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to ban Russia from the Games, as well as excluding Russian emblems and national symbols.
Russian athletes who are able to prove their ‘clean’ career may compete at the Games, but must do so as independent athletes. On Tuesday, the ROC unanimously voted in favor of Russian athletes participating at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in February under a neutral flag.
The IOC accused Russia of “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system,” based on a report by former Swiss president Samuel Schmid into alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia.
At the media session, Putin responded to the allegations by saying the scandal was “being exaggerated ahead of the upcoming election,” and questioned the testimony of disgraced former head of Anti-Doping at the Moscow Laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov. The former doctor has been used as a witness in investigations into the state-sponsored doping allegations.
“Is [Rodchenkov] an honest person? He is also under the control of the FBI, protected by the FBI. Everything is laid out in his diaries – how do you know he is honest? He says himself that money is the main thing,” Putin said.
“Being under the control of the FBI is not necessarily an advantage, he works under their guidance. What are they doing to him over there? [We don’t know] what substances they are providing him with, for him to say what they want [him to say],” he added.
The Russian leader also admitted partial blame for the alleged scandal and the initial appointment of Rodchenkov.
The neutral uniforms to be worn by Russian athletes will soon be on sale. They are made by sporting goods manufacturer ZASPORT. Company founder Anastasia Zadorina said after the ROC meeting on Tuesday that she was “very glad” the committee had decided to compete at the Games, having earlier held a Moscow flash mob in support of the athletes.