The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to resist imposing a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the 2018 winter Olympic Games, arguing it would put the sport’s health at risk.
The IOC is due to meet on December 5 to decide Russia’s fate for Pyeongchang 2018 and the IIHF has elected to speak out with the country one of the sport’s powerhouses. The IIHF Council has called for the full participation of all clean Russian athletes in the Games.
“We wanted to outline our position clearly to the IOC, that we are against a collective punishment approach that would unfairly punish many Russian athletes that had nothing to do with doping,” IIHF president René Fasel said.
The IIHF will already miss the participation of leading players from North America's NHL at Pyeongchang 2018. The Russian-organised Kontinental Hockey League has threatened action should it take issue with the IOC’s verdict next week.
In a statement, the IIHF said that to preserve the integrity of the Olympic ice hockey tournaments, it and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and KHL undertook a “highly structured” testing program for the KHL, which went into operation in December 2016 and up to now has tested nearly 400 Russian players.
The IIHF added: “We oppose the use of collective punishment in the case of Russian athletes. Although we recognise the need to confront doping in sport, Olympic participation should not be used to sanction the many for the actions of the few. In addition, the extent to which the IOC is seeking punitive measures in the case of Russia is putting the health of ice hockey at risk.
“Russia’s role in the growth and development of ice hockey cannot be understated. This country forms a pillar on which our sport’s legacy rests upon.”
In other news, world football’s governing body Fifa has defended Russia’s right to host its 2018 World Cup amid the doping scandal, stating there is no sign of “widespread” drug use in the Russian game.
A World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) investigation last year said that football was one of a number of sports implicated in the wide-ranging scandal. The report said procedures were in place to protect Russia’s players at the 2014 World Cup should they have tested positive in the country before the tournament in Brazil.
The documents did not directly accuse the World Cup squad of doping, but they did include records of alleged drug use among players from youth national teams. “From the information we have, we cannot talk about widespread doping in football in Russia,” Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura said, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Samoura added that all samples at next year’s World Cup would be transported out of Russia to a laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, on the day they are collected.