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6 Feb, 2020 18:42

Russian Olympic Committee head Stanislav Pozdnyakov: 'Our main goal is to protect athletes'

Russian Olympic Committee head Stanislav Pozdnyakov: 'Our main goal is to protect athletes'

President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Stanislav Pozdnyakov has stressed that the body’s top goal is to protect national athletes and ensure their participation in the 2020 Summer Games in Japan.

In an interview with RT, the prominent fencer and the four-time Olympic gold medalist touched on the topics of Russia’s doping problems, its possible Olympic ban and the devastating coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: 'A neutral flag isn't shame, shame is being stuck in a doping row': World high-jump champ Lasitskene on Russia’s sport crisis

Talking about the crisis inside the Russian Athletics Federation (RUSAF), whose management resigned last week in the wake of the doping scandal, Pozdnyakov said that the ROC’s Working Group will do everything possible to bring Russian track and field athletes to the Tokyo Games, at the very least under a neutral flag.

Our main goal is to give Russian athletes an opportunity to perform at the Olympics,” Pozdnyakov told RT. “Reinstatement of RUSAF can take a long time, but our top priority is to provide our athletes with a chance to compete at the Olympic Games, at least as neutral participants. And I’m pretty confident the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Working Group will achieve this goal and Russian athletes will be included in the Olympic team.”

The ROC president also underlined that much work has been done on eradicating doping problems in Russian sport, voicing hope that international organizations will notice and appreciate all the efforts made by the Russian side.

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We are applying efforts on changing the so-called doping culture inside the country. We have had a noticeable progress in that field and our international colleagues, including the IOC, can see those changes,” Pozdnyakov said.

The former fencer stressed that Russian authorities will fight for the right of the athletes to compete under the national flag at this summer’s Olympics.

The ROC will take part in Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearings as a third party. We will stick to the postulates of the Olympic Charter, which strictly regulates a country’s participation in the Olympic Games. Neither WADA nor the IOC have any complaints addressed to the ROC. In its recommendation to WADA, the Compliance Committee also underlined that the ROC was not implicated in any violations. This means that the ROC can fully exercise all the rights mentioned in the Olympic charter,” the ROC head said.

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Talking about the coronavirus epidemic which has swept across the entire world, Pozdnyakov said that Russian authorities are taking preventive measures to protect Russian athletes from the deadly infection.

Of course we treat this problem very seriously, because it affects Russian sport,” he said. “China is one of the most powerful sports countries, hosting a great number of international sporting events. All the competitions scheduled in China for February and March have been cancelled.”

Taking into consideration the worst possible scenario, in which all the competitions in China through to May could be cancelled or postponed, we, together with our colleagues from other international sports federations, are trying to make the necessary changes to the calendar and the team’s training – if it was planned to take place in China – to avoid the risk of being infected.”