MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reduced the pool of Russian athletes, who can get a special IOC invitation to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, from 500 to 389, the organization’s press service said in a statement on Friday.
The Invitation Review Panel, tasked with selecting Russian athletes who may be allowed to take part in the Games, is chaired by Dr Valerie Fourneyron, the chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA) and a former French sports minister.
"Following intensive weeks of work by the Independent Invitation Review Panel members, in which they went into detailed consideration of each individual athlete, they have established a pool of clean athletes from which athletes to be invited by the IOC to take part in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR) can be chosen," the IOC statement reads. "More than 80 per cent of the athletes in this pool did not compete at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. This shows that this is a new generation of Russian athletes."
Earlier, the Russian Olympic Committee submitted a list of 500 athletes, seeking to take part in the upcoming Games. At present, the original pre-registration pool "has already been reduced by 111" by the IOC Invitation Review Panel, the statement reads.
No athlete, who has been sanctioned by the Oswald Commission, is in the pool, according to IOC.
The final list of Russian athletes, who will be allowed to take part in the 2018 Games as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR), is currently being determined by a special commission. The commission checks whether applicants comply with IOC requirements.
"Throughout the current winter season, this chosen group of Russian athletes have gone through the most rigorous testing worldwide as a result of the recommended Pre-Games Testing Task Force. On average, they have had more tests since April 2017 than athletes from any other countries," Fourneyron said.
"None have been suspended for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) in the past. This means that a number of Russian athletes will not be on the list," she added.
Olympic invitations can be issued only at the OAR Delegation Registration Meeting (DRM), due on January 27, 2018 in PyeongChang. Therefore, the names of invited athletes will not be known before that date.
"The suspended Russian Olympic Committee, with which a working relationship needed to be established for the implementation of the IOC sanctions, can now start proposing which of the clean athletes can fill the earned quota places by sport, discipline and event," the IOC statement reads. "Therefore, only a limited number of athletes can be chosen from the current pool."
"As the qualification process is still ongoing and more preconditions have to be met by some of the athletes, it is still not possible to project how many athletes will participate in PyeongChang in the OAR group," the statement continues.
The commission also reviewed the list of Russian coaches and officials, who are to get Olympic invitations. The panel decided that only coaches and medical doctors associated with athletes who have been sanctioned by the Oswald Commission must be barred from the games, designating 51 coaches and 10 medical staff as such.
In order to coordinate implementation of IOC decisions, a delegation, led by IOC Deputy Director General Pere Mir· and Sports Director Kit McConnell, will head to Moscow early next week. Among other things, their mission will include coordination of practical and operational questions related to the participation of individual Russian athletes.
On December 5, the IOC Executive Board announced its decision to suspend the whole Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang over multiple doping abuse allegations.
The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia might go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes. They are prohibited from wearing the national flag or any other national symbol on their uniform, and the Olympic anthem will be played at any ceremony with their participation.
The upcoming Olympics, which are the 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.