MOSCOW, January 24. /TASS/. A special panel of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which worked on the 2018 Olympics invitation list for Russian athletes, had serious indications against inviting a number of leading Russian athletes, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.
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 national committee received the list from the IOC Invitation Review Panel and it did not contain many athletes, including the team’s leaders such as 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 speed skating Viktor Ahn.
"This [Invitation] Review Panel worked to be absolutely certain that there was not a slightest doubt or suspicion," Bach said addressing a telephone press conference. "The Panel took information from many different sources into consideration and checked every athlete individually."
"The Review Panel put together the invitation list to give the highest confidence that there will only be clean Russian athletes," Bach said. "If there is an athlete not on the list then this independent Panel had serious indication by different sources for this."
"This Panel did not act in an arbitrary way," the IOC president said. "They were checking very carefully each and every case."
"Therefore Russia can appreciate and can be very confident now that the final list of invited athletes will consist of clean athletes and that neither Russia, nor the Olympic movement and other athletes will have to face any negative surprises," Bach said.
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.