Call for Russia to be banned from Winter Games

A group of the world's leading anti-doping organisations have called for the Russia to be excluded from next year's Winter Games in South Korea over alleged state-sponsored doping.

In a joint statement issued after a two-day meeting in Denver, the organisations also criticised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for "continuing failure in its obligations to clean sport."

"A country's sport leaders and organisations should not be given credentials to the Olympics when they intentionally violate the rules and rob clean athletes," said the statement.

"This is especially unfair when athletes are punished when they violate the rules."

Russian Olympic Committee vice-president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said that the committee regretted the statement.

"This is not the first time this group of anti-doping agencies fuels the hysteria over the Russian team's participation in Pyeongchang," he said.

He added that the statement "speaks to the lack of professionalism and the ignorance of the whole picture on the part of these respectable people."

The anti-doping organisation leaders said they were committed to providing "consistent criteria" to enable individual Russian athletes to compete as neutrals, as long as they had been subject to "robust anti-doping protocols."

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission in 2015 found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors in more than 30 sports were involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a period of five years.

Russia escaped a blanket ban at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro although it was, and remains, barred from competing in athletics.

The statement was backed by anti-doping leaders from countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA.

It added that "the IOC needs to stop kicking the can down the road and immediately issue meaningful consequences."

"The mishandling of this Russia doping crisis has left the athletes of the world wondering if global anti-doping regulations have teeth and whether their fundamental right to clean sport matters," the statement said.

The IOC, which is holding a congress in Lima this week, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.


Photo: AFP The Olympic rings near Sochi during the 2014 Olympics.