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28 Mar, 2023 22:13

Russian Olympic champion hits back at IOC

Skiing prodigy Veronika Stepanova criticized the restrictive “recommendations” proposed for her compatriots
Russian Olympic champion hits back at IOC

Olympic cross-country skiing champion Veronika Stepanova has slammed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its “recommendations” on Russian athletes, suggesting the body should “go to hell.”

Among other things, the IOC has urged International Federations (IFs) to set up special commissions to analyze public statements by Russian athletes. Anyone found to have shown support in some way for Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine would be barred from competing.

Stepanova, Beijing Winter Olympic champion in the 4x5km women’s relay, said the provision was completely unacceptable.

“Won’t you go to hell with all your conditions and recommendations, dear IOC? I will not let any ‘international commission’ analyze my views and beliefs, and decide whether to let me go to the World Cup. Go and race yourselves then. And I can just repeat what I’ve been saying for this whole year: We will overcome all difficulties. Certainly and without a doubt,” Stepanova wrote in a Telegram post.

The 22-year-old skiing star has been vocal on the attitude towards Russian athletes exhibited by international sporting bodies, criticizing the IOC itself, as well as the organizers of the Blink festival in Norway. She has also sparred with Western media over what she perceives to be the unfair treatment of Russians in foreign coverage.

The IOC unveiled a set of “recommendations” on Russian and Belarusian athletes earlier on Tuesday. While enabling them to compete as neutrals, the body barred them from team competitions, as well as disqualified those linked to the militaries of the two countries or any of their security agencies.

The conditions have already been rejected by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), with its boss, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, describing them as “unreasonable, legally void and excessive” and suggesting they actually breach the IOC’s own principles and potentially amount to human rights abuse.