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Russia-based KHL must allow foreigners to play at 2018 Olympics — IIHF chief Fasel

November 20, 2017, 20:28 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The next Olympics will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang and participation of the whole Russian national team in the event is still under a question

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Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation

Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation

© Sergey Savostianov/TASS

MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) should allow foreigners playing in its clubs to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang, Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), told TASS on Monday.

Early this month, KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko stated that the Russian league was ready to come up with reciprocal measures in response to actions of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which, according to him, "is falling under pressure of various whistleblowers and commissions, and as a result bans athletes without real facts pointing to doping abuse."

Alexander Medvedev, who was the KHL president in 2008-2014, told TASS later, that KHL might review this season’s schedule and cancel its window for the Olympic period in case the Russian national team was barred from the 2018 Winter Games.

"KHL, being a member of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, has to follow the statutes and bylaws of the IIHF and they have to release foreign players and the national team players from other countries to play in the Olympics," IIHF President Fasel said in an interview with TASS.

"We hope that the IOC will decide in favor of the Russian team going to PyeongChan," he said. "In ice hockey we do not have really big problems in doping and regarding the McLaren report we do not have any of the men hockey players being in concern."

"There is absolutely no reason to suspend the Russian ice hockey team, female or men team," Fasel said.

The IIHF president also said that KHL may be subjected to penalties if it keeps foreign players away from taking part in the Olympics, but added he hoped it would never come to this, which he described in Russian word "koshmar" (a nightmare).

"I am sure that the players - the Finnish, the Swedish, the Czechs and the rest of the players participating or qualified for the Olympics - want to go and represent their countries in the Olympic Games," he said. "It would be a wrong message to not them play in the Olympics representing their countries."

"We are here for sports and we are here for athletes. We are not here for politics," the IIHF president added.

In July 2016, the IOC set up two separate commissions to probe doping abuse allegations in Russian sports as well as alleged involvement of state officials in manipulations with performance enhancing drugs, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi.

The first of the two commissions is an Inquiry Commission, chaired by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid. The commission is looking into accusations set out in the McLaren report that alleges the existence of a supposed institutional conspiracy in Russia’s summer and winter sports, in which the country’s state officials were allegedly engaged in.

The second investigative body at the issue is a Disciplinary Commission, chaired by IOC Member Denis Oswald. This commission is tasked to address alleged doping uses and manipulation of samples concerning the Russian athletes, who participated in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

The next Olympics, which are XXIII Winter Olympic Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018 and participation of the whole Russian national team in the event is still under a question.

Based on the results of the commissions’ investigations the IOC is set to decide during its Executive Board’s session on December 5 whether the Russian national team would be cleared to take part in the PyeongChang Olympics.

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