The International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters is pictured on the day of an Executive Board meeting on sanctions for Russian athletes in Lausanne, Switzerland on December 5, 2017. Picture: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters is pictured on the day of an Executive Board meeting on sanctions for Russian athletes in Lausanne, Switzerland on December 5, 2017. Picture: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

Moscow — Russia’s short-track speed skating star Victor An has been banned from the Pyeongchang Winter Games, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) confirmed on Tuesday, in the aftermath of a state-sponsored doping scandal.

Six-time Olympic gold medallist An — who was born in South Korea but took Russian citizenship before the 2014 Sochi Games — was "absent from the list of potential participants", vice president of the ROC Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement, confirming media reports from Monday. Olympic champion bi-athlete Anton Shipulin and world champion skier Sergey Ustyugov were also absent from the list, the statement said.

The absent sportsmen have "never been implicated in any type of doping affair and the numerous tests they have passed in their careers show that they are clean athletes", Pozdnyakov said.

"Today we will send the International Olympic Committee a request for the specific reasons why the captains of Russian teams in various sports have not been included in the list of potential participants."

The ROC said it did not see this as a final decision, but An’s lawyer told the media on Monday there would not be time to appeal before the Games.

The IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Games over a report on state-sponsored doping in previous Games. Russians who want to compete are being forced to pass a unique set of anti-doping tests. Those deemed clean will be allowed to appear in Pyeongchang under a neutral flag as an "Olympic athlete from Russia".

An had earlier requested permission to compete as a neutral athlete at the upcoming Olympics following the IOC’s ban on Russia’s athletes over the doping allegations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had seen the "sad" media reports of the ban, telling journalists, "We deeply regret this, if such a decision is indeed taken."

AFP

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