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2ND LEAD Several Russian gold medallists not allowed to compete at Olympics By Peter Spinella, dpa

Europe, Europa
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Moscow (dpa) - Russian figure skater Ksenia Stolbova, biathlete Anton Shipulin and short track skater Viktor Ahn, all gold medallists at the last Winter Olympics, which the nation hosted in 2014, are not allowed to compete at next month‘s Games in South Korea.

The Russian Figure Skating Federation said Tuesday that Stolbova and Ivan Bukin, an ice dancer who won bronze at the European Championships this month in Moscow, have been barred from participating in the Olympics, a decision it named "unfounded and absurd."

Shipulin, Ahn and cross-country skier Sergey Ustiugov have not been invited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for undisclosed reasons, the Russian Olympic Committee said.

Russia has requested an explanation for the absence of invitations for those three athletes, Russian Olympic Committee vice president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said, emphasizing that they "have never been implicated in doping."

"It is very unfortunate that the list we were presented yesterday did not include a number of leading Russian athletes in several types of sports," Pozdnyakov said in comments by state news agency TASS.

International Biathlon Union (IBU) secretary general Nicole Resch told dpa that the lack of an invitation for Shipulin was "all new to me," adding, "we do not have this info."

Shipulin won relay gold at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while Stolbova won gold in the team figure skating event. Ahn, who was born in South Korea and became a Russian citizen ahead of Sochi, won three Olympic golds for Russia. Ustiugov meanwhile is two-time world champion and 2017 Tour de Ski winner.

"The Russian Figure Skating Federation is profoundly outraged by this unfounded decision by the International Olympic Committee," the federation said in a statement.

"We intend to immediately begin fighting to restore a fair attitude toward Russian skaters and defend the honour and dignity of our athletes in every way possible," the statement said.

Without giving names, the IOC said last week that 111 Russian athletes from a pre-registration group of 500 will not be allowed to compete at the February 9-25 Games in Pyeongchang.

The decision by IOC panels was taken after a thorough review for each athlete in connection with wide-ranging doping practices in general in Russia, and in particular at the Sochi Games, including sample-swapping.

The IOC said Tuesday it would not comment on individual cases but issued a response from Valerie Fourneyron, a former French sports minister, who had chaired the IOC invitation review panel and said that the rejected Russians weren‘t necessarily dopers but could on the other hand face anti-doping proceedings.

"Not being included on the invitation list does not necessarily mean that an athlete has been doped - it should not automatically cast doubt on their integrity," she said.

But she added: "The IOC would like to make clear that there may still be further enquires and further anti-doping procedures coming up against a number of those athletes who have not been included on the pool of athletes considered for invitation."

Fourneyron said the panel "wanted to ensure that only clean Russian athletes could be invited to the Olympic Winter Games ... We wanted to be absolutely certain that there was not the slightest doubt or suspicion against any of those athletes who will be invited."

The IOC also said Friday it would look at results from pre-Games doping tests and the reanalysis of stored samples ahead of a final decision on the remaining 389 athletes. The final invitation meeting for Russian athletes and officials set for Saturday, January 27.

Cleared Russian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals under the name "Olympic Athlete From Russia" without their national uniform, flag and anthem. The IOC said last week that more than 80 per cent of the Russians in Pyeongchang would not have been on the Sochi team.

Not eligible at all for Pyeongchang are 43 Russian athletes banned for life from the Games by the IOC over the Sochi practices. But 39 of them are appealing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with rulings set for next week.


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