IOC reduces pool of Russian athletes eligible to compete at winter Olympics

Pedestrians walk past models of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games mascots in Seoul. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - The International Olympic Committee said on Friday (Jan 19) it had reduced the pool of Russian athletes eligible to compete at next month's Pyeongchang winter Olympics to 389 from 500.

The IOC last month banned Russia from the Pyeongchang Games as a result of its "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system, though individual athletes will be able to compete effectively as neutrals if they can prove their anti-doping credentials.

"As of today, the original pre-registration pool of 500 athletes has already been reduced by 111 by the Panel," the IOC said in a statement.

"For others in the remaining pool of athletes, pre-conditions such as further pre-Games tests and reanalysis from stored samples have been required," the IOC said.

"Only if these requirements are met can the athletes be considered for invitation."

Widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games was exposed by an independent report for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Russia also sent a reduced team to the Rio de Janeiro summer Games of 2016 after its track and field team as well as weightlifting team, among others, were banned for doping.

The invitation review panel, set up by the IOC to check every Russian athlete's eligibility for the Games in South Korea starting on Feb 9, said each case was reviewed anonymously.

"All our decisions were taken by consensus of the panel for each individual athlete, all of which were reviewed anonymously," said panel chair Valerie Fourneyron.

"It was not easy to put this list together, but we wanted to be absolutely sure that only clean athletes from Russia can be invited to participate in the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018."

She said none of the athletes in the poll had any doping past and had undergone "the most rigorous testing worldwide as a result of the recommended pre-Games testing task force" during the current winter season.

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