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  • Russia Still "Preferred" Choice for 2019 European Games


    (ATR) An official announcement regarding the host city for the second edition of the European Games has been delayed, however Russian cities remain the leading candidates.

    EOC chief Patrick Hickey reads annoucement regarding the status of the 2019 European Games (ATR)
    European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey declared that Russia is still the EOC’s first choice for the 2019 Games should they be able to meet specified criteria in the wake of the anti-doping scandal that has startled the international sports community.

    Negotiations have been taking place for some months for Sochi and Kazan to co-host the Games, but Hickey warned that Russia must once again become WADA code compliant following the revealing World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Commission report on the country’s systemic doping, cover-ups and related corruption.

    “Russia is still the EOC’s preferred partner to host the 2019 European Games, that is provided the independent authorities can confirm Russia’s ability to support an anti-doping program that meets the highest international standards,” Hickey declared, reading a statement at the 44th European Olympic Committees general assembly in Prague.

    “We hoped to present their concept to you all here in Prague. But for obvious reasons, the priority for Russia, for the Russian Olympic Committee, and – by extension – the EOC, must be elsewhere.

    Addressing Russian NOC president Alexander Zhukov, in attendance in Prague, Hickey continued: “The EOC is deeply committed to helping the Russian Olympic Committee’s drive to solve your country’s doping issues.”

    Baku 2015 gave a video presentation on the first European Games at the EOC General Assembly (ATR)
    The scandal has resulted in Russia’s Athletics federation being suspended from international competition by the International Athletics Associations Federation with their status for the Rio 2016 Games in question. The IAAF announced earlier this week that it has established an inspection team to evaluate and verify if Russian athletics can meet specified criteria in order to be re-instated.

    “I am pleased to see that Russia is cooperating fully with the IOC, WADA and the IAAF,” Hickey continued. “I urge you to leave no stone unturned in your mission to become WADA Code compliant, so that we can see clean Russian track and field athletes representing a clean Russian athletics federation in Rio.”

    Zhukov briefly addressed his fellow NOC sport leaders from 50 European nations, taking the floor at the end of the morning session.

    “Of course, we promised to do everything possible to make our athletic federation compliant with the WADA code, and the Russian Olympic Committee is cooperating with IOC, WADA and IAAF on this matter,” Zhukov said.

    Prior to a presentation and video on the success of the inaugural European Games this summer in Baku and Hickey’s announcement, IOC president Thomas Bach addressed the general assembly, providing further news on Russia’s predicament, quest to become WADA code compliant and cooperation with Zhukov.

    Sochi hosted the 2014 Olympics, but EOC leaders are still determining whether the city could host the 2019 European Games. (ATR)
    “One of your members here the Russian Olympic Committee has taken a great responsibility in this respect and we welcome that they are standing up to do all the necessary, to address all the issues mentioned in the WADA Independent Commission report,” Bach said to the NOC delegates in Prague.

    "President Zhukov visited me a couple of day ago and he presented already a framework on how to do this...this framework was saying that all officials, coaches and the entourage implicated in doping will be held responsible and sanctioned.

    “All doped athletes will be sanctioned in accordance with international anti-doping regulations, all clean athletes will be protected.

    "RUSADA, the national anti-doping agency, the anti doping lab in Moscow, and the National Athletics Association will be made compliant again with the WADA code,” Bach said.

    Hickey told Around the Rings that he expects a final decision on the host of the 2019 Games will come during the first three months of 2016.

    A statement from the Russia NOC regarding recent developments is expected later this afternoon.

    Written and reported in Prague by Brian Pinelli

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