Winter Olympics: IOC cuts number of Russians eligible for Games

Olympics Photograph:( Others )

AFP Lausanne, Switzerland Jan 20, 2018, 01.37 AM (IST)

The number of Russian athletes eligible to take part at next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang has been reduced from a pool of 500 to 389, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.

The IOC last month banned Russia from taking part at Pyeongchang over state-sponsored doping, but clean Russian competitors will be allowed to participate under strict conditions, and under a neutral flag.

"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, following the recommendation of an independent invitation review panel. 

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

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

The IOC added that "more than 80 per cent of the athletes" in the pool did not take part at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where the level of doping reached its peak.

None of the 42 Russian athletes handed lifetime Olympic bans for doping at Sochi remain on the list, with 39 of them set for an appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport next week in Geneva.

The panel also recommended 51 coaches and 10 medical staff cannot be invited to the Olympics which run from February 9 to 25.

"All our decisions were taken by consensus of the panel for each individual athlete, all of which were reviewed anonymously," said chair panel and former French sports minister 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."

The final list of Russian athletes invited to take part in South Korea will not be published until after a delegation registration meeting in Pyeongchang on January 27.

Russia originally topped the medals table in Sochi before losing 13 of 33 medals after an independent report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, revealed evidence of widespread doping over several years.