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Russian short tracker An plans to compete as neutral athlete in PyeongChang

Victor An said he had been preparing for the Olympics for four years and couldn't "just give it all up"

MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. South Korean-born short track speed skater Victor An, who became Russian citizen in 2011, plans to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang as a neutral athlete, Yonhap news agency reported.

"If Russia doesn't boycott the PyeongChang Olympics, I will compete as a neutral," the 32-year-old athlete said. "I've been preparing for this for four years. I can't just give it all up."

When asked what he would do if Russia decided to keep its athletes at home, An said: "I don't know. I don't want to think about that."

Until 2011, Victor An competed for South Korea’s team, becoming a three-time Olympic champion in Turin and also winning 18 gold medals at other world competitions. In 2011, the athlete was granted Russian citizenship saying he wanted to take part in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where he grabbed three gold medals. 

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to suspend membership of the Russian Olympic Committee, which bars the Russian national team from performing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics under the national flag. The IOC accused Russia of systematic doping violations, in particular at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Russians are still allowed to compete as neutral athletes.

The Russian leadership has repeatedly refuted allegations of systematic use of doping in domestic sports voicing doubts whether the IOC commission was objective.

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held in South Korea’s PyeongChang between February 9 and 25.