IIHF voices support for Russian participation at Olympics

Russia's-Ilya-Kovalchuk

Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

The International Ice Hockey Federation is against a nation-wide ban of Russian athletes at the 2018 Olympic Games.

Russia’s participation at Pyeongchang is in doubt due to an investigation into a systematic doping scandal that has seen numerous individual athletes stripped of past medals and banned from future competition.

“We oppose the use of collective punishment in the case of Russian athletes,” reads an IIHF statement on the matter. “Although we recognize the need to confront doping in sport, Olympic participation should not be used to sanction the many for the actions of the few.”

With the NHL already not participating in the upcoming Games, hockey organizations are looking to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League for talent – though the league is preparing a potential boycott of the Olympics should Russia be banned from participating.

“Russia’s role in the growth and development of ice hockey cannot be understated,” reads the statement. “This country forms a pillar on which our sport’s legacy rests upon.”

The International Olympic Committtee will decide on Dec. 5 whether or not Russia will be allowed to send a team to the Olympics.

The full IIHF statement can be read below.

The IIHF Council has reached a unanimous opinion that all clean athletes, including those from Russia, must be permitted to represent their country in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

We oppose the use of collective punishment in the case of Russian athletes. Although we recognize 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.

To preserve the integrity of the Olympic ice hockey tournaments, the IIHF in full cooperation with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the Kontinental Hockey League initiated a highly structured testing program for the KHL, MHL, and WHL, which went into operation in December 2016 and up to the present has tested nearly 400 Russian players.

To this effect, the IIHF Council reiterates its position that clean athletes from all qualified Federations should be permitted to go to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and represent their countries.

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