No ruling yet on whether Russia will skate at GamesThe top international skating official on Sunday kept mum on Russia’s participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, with the country still under investigation for state-sponsored doping.
Jan Dijkema, president of the International Skating Union (ISU), said the decision will be up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has set up two commissions to investigate Russian doping. It was in response to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-commissioned report last December by investigator Richard McLaren, accusing Russia of a widespread doping cover-up at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Last month, U.S. Figure Skating President Sam Auxier said Russia shouldn’t be allowed to compete at the PyeongChang Olympics. The ISU itself relocated the final ISU World Cup Speed Skating of the current season from Russia’s Chelyabinsk to Stavanger, Norway. The IOC has recommended winter sports federations halt preparations for major events in Russia. Dijkema, on the other hand, took a wait-and-see approach on the doping scandal.
“We have the IOC investigation at this moment and we’re waiting for the results,” Dijkema told Korean reporters on the final day of the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, Gangwon.
“If the skaters are involved (in doping), then of course, the ISU is involved; but not regarding the participation itself of the Games,” Dijkema added. “The decision is up to the IOC.”
No Russian skaters have been suspended for doping, but Russian athletes in other sports have been sanctioned. When McLaren’s report was released, the ISU issued a statement saying, “If and when there are sufficient elements and evidence to pursue anti-doping rule violations, the ISU will not hesitate to open disciplinary proceedings against bodies or persons subject to infringements of the World/ISU Anti-Doping Code.”
And when he was elected ISU president last June, Dijkema had said, “there is no doubt in anti-doping and match-fixing that the ISU will have a really firm policy.”
On the world championships, which served as an Olympic test event for Gangneung Oval, Dijkema expressed his satisfaction with the overall operation.
“We had some concerns before the event because we had the tight schedule,” the Dutchman said. “Normally, we have a test event before the start of the competition. We started right away when the ice was ready for the competition. Despite no test, we had really excellent ice conditions. Every skater will confirm that.”
Dijkema said he was also worried about the padding, but he saw no issues with that during the championships.
“I must say that we feel confident regarding the organization of the Winter Olympic Games next year here in Gangneung,” he added. “I’d like to underline that we’re very much satisfied with the way it has been done.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “But this is normal in the coordination of the event.”