Sports World Reacts to Some Pure Russian Athletes' No-Show at 2018 Olympics

© REUTERS / Maxim ShemetovMannequins dressed in the outfit designed by ZASPORT, the official clothing supplier for national athletes competing in 2018 Winter Olympics, are displayed during the uniforms presentation in Moscow, Russia January 22, 2018
Mannequins dressed in the outfit designed by ZASPORT, the official clothing supplier for national athletes competing in 2018 Winter Olympics, are displayed during the uniforms presentation in Moscow, Russia January 22, 2018 - Sputnik International
The absence of a whole array of Russian athletes, including biathlete Anton Shipulin and cross-country skier Sergey Ustyugov, from the list of potential participants at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has prompted a wide international uproar.

Russian Figure Skaters' Outcry

Commenting on Russian figure skaters Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin not being included in the list of participants of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Russia's Alexey Yagudin, the 2002 Olympic figure skating champion, did not mince words when expressing its frustration about what he described as "uttermost lawlessness."

"And foreigners say that sport is beyond politics! The IOC [International Olympic Committee], WADA [The World Anti-Doping Agency] and all those who took these decisions are breaking the lives of the purest athletes, who gave their lives and souls for sports! The heart is breaking from the news," Yagudin wrote in his Instagram account.

He was echoed by the 2014 Olympic figure skating champion, Adeline Sotnikova, who said on her Twitter page that she is "shocked by what is happening…"

"No, [my] nerves will not stand this lawlessness," she added.

Russian cross-country skier Sergey Ustyugov, who was also not included in the list of 2018 Pyeongchang Games' participants,  said in his Instagram account that he was surprised and upset by the IOC decision, much less than by the November disqualification of his team-mates Evgeniy Belov, Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin and others.

Друзья, с начала декабря я не давал комментарии о своих планах на олимпиаду. Конечно же как человек, который просвещает свою жизнь спорту, я хотел и был мотивирован ехать и выигрывать Олимпийские игры. Даже без флага и гимна. Все эти вещи в моём сердце. Все знают, где я родился и ради кого побеждаю. Но история с моими друзьями и коллегами (Евгением Беловым, Александром Легковым, Максимом Вылегжаниным и другими), дисквалифицированными МОК, заставляла меня задуматься. В их чистоте я уверен, как в своей. Я знаю, каким трудом они завоёвывали свои медали. Я не сильнее их. Но я соревнуюсь, а они вынуждены сидеть дома. Именно поэтому я не был уверен, что со мной не поступят подобным образом. Я был разочарован в олимпийском движении. Сегодняшней новости я удивился и расстроился гораздо меньше, чем ноябрьской о дисквалификации ребят. И на этот раз я не буду переживать, а продолжу делать свою работу и получать от этого удовольствие. На олимпийских играх Жизнь не заканчивается, будут другие соревнования, где мы будем выигрывать и доказывать, что Мы — Россияне, Мы — Сильные, Мы — Чистые. #russianskiteam #сборнаяроссии #спортэтонетолькоолимпиада #мырусскиемычистые #спортбезполитики #никогданесдаваться

Публикация от Sergei Ustiugov (@sergei86m) Янв 23, 2018 at 9:09 PST

"Life does not end after the Olympics, and there will be other competitions where we will win and prove that we are Russians, we are strong and we are pure," Ustyugov pointed out.


Russian figure skater Alexandra Stepanova, who performs in ice dancing together with Sergey Bukin, for her part, thanked everyone for their support, pledging that their duo will never surrender.

'Medal Gift' for Italy

The Italian sports website has in turn published an article titled "Ustyugov's disqualification is a 'medal gift' for Italy." 

"Sergey Ustyugov will not go to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which will seriously affect the dynamics of cross-country skiing. Failing to appear on the snow in South Korea will be one of the most outstanding skiers of recent years, the winner of the 2017 Tour de Ski and the world champion in the pursuit and team sprint," the article read.

The Spanish website Elcorreo, for its part, cited a statement by the law firm Schellenberg Wittmer as saying that an independent commission of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF), which canceled the temporary suspension of several Russians athletes disqualified by the IOC, "confirmed that the IOC decisions were taken in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Kremlin's Reaction

The Russian President's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has meanwhile warned against using the word "boycott" when it comes to the participation of Russian athletes in the Pyeongchang Games.

"As you know, it is very important to avoid words such as boycott right now … In any case, it is necessary to continue dialogue with the International Olympic Committee. The situation is not easy; it's rather difficult, but this does not mean that dialogue should be stopped. It is necessary to speak to the IOC and it is necessary to defend our rights as much as possible," Peskov said.

The IOC Executive Committee moved to announce in early December 2017 that Russian athletes will perform at the 2018 Games, but that they can only do so under the Olympic flag in the status of "athletes-Olympians from Russia."

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