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Russia’s Viktor Ahn demands explanations from IOC chief for 2018 Olympics ‘outrageous’ ban

In 2011, Viktor Ahn 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

MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. Six-time Olympic gold medalist in short track, Russian national Viktor Ahn, demanded explanations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on his ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Games, insisting that he was never entangled in any doping-related scandal throughout his 16-year Olympic career.

Viktor Ahn’s open letter was addressed personally to IOC President Thomas Bach and the text of the letter was published today by the Russian Speed Skating Union on its official website.

"It is outrageous that there is no concrete reason which explains my exclusion from the Olympics, and furthermore people now view me as an athlete who used doping," Ahn said in his letter. "After all these years in sports, this verdict of preventing me to be in Olympics has become a symbol of mistrust to me from the side of IOC as well as the reason of mistrust from the side of the entire sport community."

Ahn, who was born in South Korea, said the upcoming Olympic Games in PyeongChang were of a particular importance for him and his Olympic career, which he started 16 years ago.

"Back in 2002, I got my first opportunity to participate in Olympic Games," he said. "The present ones in Korea were supposed to become an especially significant part of my career for several reasons. Two weeks before the start of the Olympics I found out that the Olympic movement does not consider me an athlete, who deserves to be a part of it without even providing an explanation."

"I have always maintained respect to the sport itself, my rivals, the Olympic movement, and I’ve always complied with the anti-doping legislation," Ahn stated. "I honestly thought that properly completing all the steps to meet the criteria to be a part of the Olympic Games, a "clean" athlete deserves a right to compete there."

"However, the IOC commission has decided otherwise and didn’t provide me with reasons why so," the many-time Olympic champion 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.