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Russian Olympic Committee elects new president

Stanislav Pozdnyakov has today (Tuesday) pledged to return Russia to full competition after being elected as the new president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

Pozdnyakov (pictured), a four-time Olympic gold medallist in fencing, currently serves as a first vice-president of the ROC and led the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) delegation at the 2018 winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

He secured 214 votes at today’s election in Moscow, with rival candidate, four-time Olympic swimming champion Alexander Popov, receiving 56 votes. Pozdnyakov assumes the presidency from Alexander Zhukov, who this month said he would step down to concentrate on his political career.

Zhukov has led the ROC since May 2010, but has said he would not contest today’s elections, when a new executive committee was also formed. Zhukov is first deputy chairman of the State Duma and is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member. This membership was suspended on December 5 as part of the sanctions issued by the IOC amid the Russian doping scandal.

The IOC initially moved to ban Russia from competing at the 2018 winter Olympic Games after finding evidence of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of doping results surrounding the 2014 Games in Sochi.

The Russian team competed under the OAR banner in Pyeongchang, using kit without national branding, and the IOC had given athletes the chance to apply for invitations under this status. The Russian anthem and flag was also not used during medal ceremonies.

However, the IOC had said that it may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the closing ceremony of the 2018 Games provided its decisions from December were fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by invited athletes and officials.

This was ultimately implemented on February 27, with the ROC reinstated, along with Zhukov’s membership. However, Russia’s status within international sport is still affected with its athletics federation, anti-doping agency Rusada and Paralympic Committee remaining suspended due to the allegations of a state-sponsored doping regime, which Russia has continued to deny.

Speaking following his election, Pozdnyakov pledged to return the trust of international sports bodies, stating the return of confidence in Russian sport depends on “concrete actions”.

He added, according to state news agency Tass: “We will pay close attention to the return of confidence in our sport. The participation of our full team in the (Olympic) Games is among our priority tasks.”