MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. South Korea regrets that six-time Olympic gold medalist in short track speed skating, Russian national Viktor Ahn, has been barred by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korean Ambassador to Russia Woo Yoon-keun told TASS on Friday.
"Both Russia and we regret that the IOC decided to bar Ahn from the Olympics in PyeongChang," Woo Yoon-keun said in an interview with TASS. "We are sure that he did not take doping. In any case we regret about this decision."
"Ahn serves as a bridge, which links Russia and South Korea and this is why we feel sorry about this," the South Korean diplomat added.
The 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.
Viktor Ahn was born in South Korea’s Seoul as Ahn Hyun-Soo and initially competed for his native country’s team. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy’s Turin he brought South Korea three golds and one bronze medal in short track.
After the 2006 Olympics in Turin, a string of injuries kept him sidelined from major short track competitions and before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver he failed to qualify for the South Korean national team.
In 2011, he was granted Russian citizenship and announced his decision to speed skate for Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where he clinched three gold medals and one bronze medal.
He is also the six-time Overall World Champion, winning the titles in 2003-2007 and in 2014.