IOC disqualifies four Russian Winter Olympians
As four more Russians were disqualified yesterday for doping at the Sochi Olympics, International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach told critics not to put pressure on his executive board before a key decision next month on the country's participation at the Pyeongchang Games.
Two-time bobsled gold medallist Alexander Zubkov was removed from the 2014 records in the latest round of verdicts from an IOC panel prosecuting individuals caught in a program to cover up doping and tamper with tainted samples.
Now the president of the Russian bobsled federation, Zubkov was disqualified and banned for life from the Olympics along with speedskater Olga Fatkulina, who won silver in the 500 meters.
Russia originally topped the medals table in Sochi, but the latest cases drop it to nine gold medals, fewer than Norway and Canada. In total medals, Russia now has 24, behind the United States, Norway and Canada.
A total of 14 Russians have now been disqualified this month, with nine medals lost.
Hours earlier, Bach's comments in a keynote speech highlighting that Olympic medallists were involved in attacking the integrity of the games signalled a possible shift toward barring Russian athletes from the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Bach will chair an IOC board meeting on December 5 which could ban Russia's team from Pyeongchang because of state-sponsored doping at the Sochi Games.
Long seen as Russia's ally, Bach seemed to confirm that position this month when he criticised "unacceptable" demands for a total ban while two Olympic panels investigate an alleged doping conspiracy.
However, in a speech yesterday, Bach cautioned against those "from whichever side" who seek to influence the IOC.
"Some may try to build pressure. They will be wrong," the IOC leader told European Olympic officials meeting in Zagreb, Croatia.
Russian officials have threatened this month not to televise the Pyeongchang Games, and block the release of players from clubs in the Moscow-based Kontinental Hockey League. The KHL warning came from league president Dmitry Chernyshenko, who previously headed the Sochi organising committee.