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Alternative competitions may be organized for Russian athletes instead of Winter Olympics

January 25, 19:45 UTC+3

Among those barred are 2014 Olympic Champion in biathlon Anton Shipulin and six-time Olympic Champion in short track speed skating Viktor Ahn

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Pavel Kolobkov, Russia's Sports Minister

Pavel Kolobkov, Russia's Sports Minister

© Mikhail Dzhaparidze/TASS

MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. Alternative sports competitions may be organized for Russian athletes, who have been not invited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said on Thursday.

"We will be organizing in Russia additional tournaments with foreign athletes’ participation for all those unable to take part the Olympic Games and will provide a suitable timetable for this," Kolobkov said.

"The timetable for the (alternative) competitions will be agreed upon with sports federations and we are currently in work to settle technical aspects," he said.

"We believe that our athletes must have the real competition practice," the Russian sports minister said. "They have been preparing (for 2018 Olympics) and many of them are in great shape. This is why we will be organizing a number of tournaments for them in various sports competitions."

Kolobkov said there had been no imposed ban on the participation in other tournaments for Russian athletes, who were not invited to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang by the IOC.

"(IOC President Thomas) Bach said there were no claims whatsoever regarding these athletes on the subject of anti-doping rules violations," Kolobkov added.

The Russian Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) earlier provided the IOC with the list of Russian athletes, who intended to go to the Winter Games. After that the IOC Invitation Review Panel, chaired by ex-sports minister of France and the Chairperson of the ITA (International Testing Agency), Valerie Fourneyron, picked up from the list the names of athletes, whom the IOC would invite to the 2018 Olympic Games.

ROC Vice President Stanislav Pozdnyakov announced on Tuesday that the ROC received a preliminary list from the IOC Invitation Review Panel and it did not contain many athletes, including the team’s leaders in various sports.

Among them were 2014 Olympic Champion in biathlon Anton Shipulin, two-time World Champion in cross-country skiing Sergey Ustyugov, six-time Olympic Champion in short track speed skating Viktor Ahn, many-time world champions in speed skating Pavel Kulizhnikov and Denis Yuskov, and Olympic champion in figure skating’s pairs Ksenia Stolbova.

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, or the OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’ The IOC reserved the right to the final word in regard to Russian athletes, who will go to PyeongChang under the neutral status.

The upcoming Olympics, which are the 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.

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