Ice hockey federation against blanket Russia Olympic ban

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The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) council wants “clean” Russian athletes at the PyeongChang Olympics.

The federation issued a press release Tuesday, one week before the International Olympic Committee is due to decide on Russia’s participation in PyeongChang in February amid its doping scandal.

“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 in the press release.

Earlier Tuesday, it was reported that Canadian, Swedish, Finnish, Czech and Swiss hockey federations sent a letter to the IIHF supporting Russian hockey participation in the PyeongChang Olympics.

So far, 19 Russian athletes have been retroactively disqualified from the Sochi Winter Games — and banned from the Olympics for life — as a result of the IOC’s investigation into Russian doping.

None of those athletes are hockey players, but seven female hockey players from Sochi are reportedly being investigated with an IOC hearing set Dec. 4.

The full statement from the IIHF:

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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