Star skater An demands explanation over Olympic ban
MOSCOW – Agence France-Presse
Short track speed skating star Viktor An on Jan. 26 demanded to know why he had been excluded from next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, insisting he never took performance-enhancing drugs.
Six-time Olympic gold medalist An -- who was born in South Korea but switched his allegiance to Russia in 2011 -- has been banned from taking part in next month’s Games in South Korea in the aftermath of a state-sponsored doping scandal, along with a string of other athletes.
An, 32, had hoped to compete in his birth country at next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games under a neutral Olympic flag after the Russian team was banned over a state-sponsored doping scandal.
An, in an open letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, insisted he was in strict compliance with anti-doping legislation and demanded an explanation for his ban.
“It is outrageous that there is no concrete reason which explains my exclusion from the Olympics,” An wrote.
“I hope that the IOC will ultimately declare their reason for my exclusion, so I will be able to defend my honour and dignity,” he said in the letter carried by Russian media on Friday.
“After all these years in sports, this verdict of preventing me to be in Olympics has become a symbol of mistrust to me from the side of IOC as well as the reason of mistrust from the side of the entire sport community,” he added.
The world’s most successful short track skater, An, who was born in Seoul as Ahn Hyun-Soo, won three gold medals at the Sochi Games in 2014 after winning three Olympic golds as a South Korean team member at the Turin Games in 2006.
“During my entire career journey in short track, I’ve never given a reason to doubt my honesty and my integrity, especially when it comes to my victories which I achieved with nothing but my strength and dedication,” An said.
Last week the IOC said the pool of Russians who could potentially be eligible for the 2018 Games had been reduced from 500 to 389.
On Jan. 25, the Russian Olympic Committee said that only 169 country’s athletes had been approved to take part in the Games with many high-profile athletes excluded from the 2018 Olympics.
The IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Olympics after a report on a vast, Moscow-backed doping scheme in previous Games.