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Russian skiers unlikely to return to int’l competition before 2028 — sports official

Russian cross country skiers have been barred from taking part in international competitions since 2022 due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine

MOSCOW, April 15. /TASS/. The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) is unlikely to scrap its ban on Russian athletes taking part in international competition in the next three or four years, Yelena Vyalbe, the president of the Cross Country Ski Federation of Russia (CCSFR), said on Monday.

"We are always ready to come back but you are all aware of the current circumstances," Vyalbe said speaking at a news conference. "I don’t believe that it [the return] will be possible next year or even in the next two or three years."

"Our return will be very complicated. I know that all our athletes are just as frustrated by this as I am, but there is no need to grovel in front of anyone," she said. "When a country or a World Cup bid is at stake no one should have any doubt about what to choose."

Russian cross country skiers have been barred from taking part in international competitions since 2022 due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

"We have to be very strong. Of course, we missed the World Cup. I don't think that we will be able to come back before the year 2028. It will be possible only if the world changes," Vyalbe added.

On October 25, 2023, FIS executive manager Erik Roeste said in an interview with Norwegian television channel NRK that sanctions against Russian athletes must be upheld for the 2023/2024 season, despite the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recommendations to allow them to participate in international competitions only as neutral athletes and under a number of conditions.

Vyalbe also stated that President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach resorted to all possible means to bar Russian athletes from the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

"Bach did everything to prevent athletes from travelling there," she said. "Even regarding his questions I must say that I have no athletes, who are not affiliated [in one way or the other] with the CSKA, Dinamo, FSB and the Russian National Guard."

The 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be hosted by the French capital of Paris between July 26 and August 11.

IOC’s regulations against Russia

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board convened for a meeting at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 19-20 and following the opening day it decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in the Parade of Athletes and also exclude them from the 2024 Olympics overall medal standings.

The IOC, however, ruled that Russian athletes, cleared to participate in the upcoming Olympics, would not have to sign anything denouncing their country’s special military operation in Ukraine.

On October 12, 2023, the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) until further notice after the Russian organization included the Olympic councils of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions as its members.

The Swiss-based CAS registered on November 6, 2023 an appeal from the ROC against the IOC’s decision on the Russian governing Olympic body’s suspension.

The suspension means that the ROC cannot act as a national Olympic committee or receive financing from the Olympic movement. The IOC however reserved the right to clear Russian athletes to take part in the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 as neutrals. Later, IOC President Thomas Bach said that Russian athletes should have no affiliation with the ROC if they want to compete at the Olympic Games.