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Russian Biathlon Union unclear about IOC’s reasons to bar leading athletes from 2018 Games

The upcoming Olympics will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25

GENEVA, January 23. /TASS/. The Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) is unclear about the reasons behind the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision against extending invitations to leading Russian athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics, RBU President Alexander Kravtsov told TASS on Tuesday.

Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Stanislav Pozdnyakov announced earlier in the day that the national committee received a list from the IOC of the invited national athletes to the 2018 Winter Games and the list did not have the names of 2014 Olympic Champion in biathlon Anton Shipulin, two-time World Champion in cross-country skiing Sergey Ustyugov and six-time Olympic Champion in short track Viktor Ahn.

"The Russian Biathlon Union reserves the right for the application quota of six male and five female biathlon racers for the Olympic Games in South Korea," Kravtsov said in an interview with TASS. "We cannot understand why the leaders of the Russian biathlon team were denied the participation in the upcoming Olympics without any explanations."

Kravtsov also said that the RBU turned to the International Biathlon Union (IBU) for help in the resolution of the current situation.

"We have turned to the International Biathlon Union asking them to participate in the settlement of this issue, since it undermines the authority and reputation of not Russia’s biathlon only," Kravtsov stated.

"Throughout their sports careers, Russian athletes have been constantly passing the required anti-doping procedures, which proved that they fully complied with the status of the clean athlete," the RBU president added.

The ROC earlier provided the IOC with the list of Russian athletes, who intended to go to the Winter Games. After than a special IOC 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 like to invite to the 2018 Olympic Games.

The edited list with the names of the athletes was returned by the IOC to the ROC on Monday and it missed the names of Russia’s leading athletes, including the leader of the Russian biathlon team, Anton Shipulin.

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 final composition of the Russian delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics was earlier set to be announced before January 28 by a special IOC panel, chaired by Executive Board’s member Nicole Hoevertsz.

Following the announcement, official invitations were to be forwarded personally to Russian athletes, who were granted the right for competing under the neutral flag at the 2018 Games.

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