South Korean-born Russian short track speed skating star Victor An will not be allowed to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, reports said Tuesday, presumably due to alleged links to Russia's state-sponsored doping scandal.
Figure skaters Ksenia Stolbova (a two-time medalist at the 2014 Sochi Olympics) and Ivan Bukin also were excluded from the list of eligible athletes by the International Olympic Committee, drawing a stern condemnation from the Russian Figure Skating Federation, which said in a statement it was "deeply disappointed in this baseless International Olympic Committee decision which is reminiscent of a provocation with the aim of forcing Russian athletes by any means possible to decline to participate in the games". "They were never involved in doping stories and the many tests they passed over their careers have showed that they are clean athletes".
Ksenia Stolbova's partner was allowed, but he can not compete without his partner.
"The IOC's decision (against extending Olympic invitations to a number of strong Russian athletes) is preliminary".
"There was an attempt to take the Russian athletes' flag, anthem, to push Russia toward a boycott ... Nevertheless their names are absent from the list of potential Olympic participants".
Ahn competed for his native South Korea under the name Ahn Hyun-soo until 2011, when a disagreement with the Korean Skating Union (KSU) saw him acquire Russian citizenship and compete for his new country at the 2014 Sochi Games, where he earned three gold medals.More news: Details of Mkhitaryan's contract with Arsenal revealed
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The IOC said it would not comment on individual cases, and has not spelled out the criteria used to refuse invitations to the athletes named Tuesday in Russian Federation.
Stolbova along with her partner Fedor Klimov took silver in the European Championships in Moscow last week and the pair were also second at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.
"We understand that there are athletes on this list who do not meet the new criteria", Mutko told state news agency TASS.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had seen the "sad" media reports that An, Ustyugov and Shipulin had been banned.
The IOC last month banned Russian Federation from Pyeongchang over "systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but left the door open to athletes with no history of doping to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation". "We completely disagree with this decision".
On Friday, the International Olympic Committee said it had cut an initial list of 500 Russian athletes down to a pool of 389, but didn't give any names.