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Russian athletes facing bans on doping allegations turn to Putin on Instagram for help

November 30, 2017, 18:20 UTC+3 MINSK

The Kremlin spokesman said that Instagram is not an official platform to turn to the head of state

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MINSK, November 30. /TASS/. The Kremlin has not received an official request for President Vladimir Putin from Russian athletes to look into their suspension, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied to reporters about an appeal to Putin on social media from five Russian Olympic athletes suspended by the International Olympic Committee.

Peskov said there hasn’t been any such request through official channels. "I was told that [it had been sent to] some online intake office, through Instagram and so on. But you see, Instagram has never been and I hope won’t be a channel to communicate with the president of Russia, and I have not seen any other appeals, so I cannot say anything," the spokesman added, reiterating that Instagram is not an official platform to turn to the head of state.

Earlier, Russian bobsleigh racers Alexander Kasyanov, Alexey Pushkarev and Ilvir Khuzin, as well as skeleton racers Alexander Tretyakov and Elena Nikitina, suspended by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) for anti-doping violations at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, had asked Vladimir Putin to look into their dilemma. The text of their open letter was uploaded to Nikitina’s Instagram page.

"We, the athletes of the Russian national bobsleigh and skeleton team, have been representing our Homeland at all international competitions and Olympic Games. We were happy and proud to hear the Russian anthem and see our state flag hoisted, we have been unfairly deprived of this," the letter read.

"We ask you to look into a ban on our participation in all international competitions. Respectfully yours - athletes Alexander Kasyanov, Alexander Tretyakov, Alexey Pushkarev, Ilvir Khuzin and Elena Nikitina," it read.

In July 2016, the IOC set up two separate commissions to probe doping abuse allegations in Russian sports as well as the 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 tampering of samples concerning the Russian athletes, who participated in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

Upon the decisions of the Oswald-led commission, 22 Russian athletes have already been banned for life from performing in the Olympics. Apart from Kasyanov, Pushkarev and Khuzin, these are cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Alexey Petukhov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Julia Ivanova, Evgenia Shapovalova; skeleton racers Alexander Tretyakov, Elena Nikitina, Olga Potylitsyna, Maria Orlova and Sergey Chudinov, bobsledders Alexander Zubkov, Alexey Negodailo, Dmitri Trunenkov and Olga Stulneva, speed skaters Olga Fatkulina and Alexander Rumyantsev, biathletes Olga Vilukhina and Yana Romanova.

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

The upcoming Olympics, which are 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018 and the participation of the entire Russian national team in the event is still doubtful.

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