The first EOC Executive Committee meeting of the year took place at ANOC headquarters (EOC)
(ATR) Despite the ongoing fall-out from the Russian doping scandal, the European Olympic Committees is sticking with Russia as its preferred choice for the 2019 European Games.
The decision came at a meeting of the EOC executive committee at ANOC headquarters in Lausanne on Thursday. A statement echoed EOC president Patrick Hickey's comments made at the general assembly in Prague last November.
On Thursday, the EOC Executive Committee reiterated its position on the host of the second European Games. In a statement, the EOC said Russia "remains the preferred host providing they can demonstrate their ability to support an anti-doping program of the highest international standards.
"The EOC will continue to liaise with the IOC, WADA, the IAAF and the ROC to assess Russia's compliance with the WADA Code," it added.
At the EOC general assembly - in the wake of the damning WADA report revealing state-sponsored doping in Russia - the 50-member Olympic body delayed the announcement on the 2019 European Games host. But EOC officials placed their faith in Russia addressing the systemic doping, cover-ups and related corruption.
Sochi and Kazan are the preferred choice to co-host the 2019 Games. The EOC gave no indication Thursday that it was negotiating with other bids, although it's likely that talks may take place with two or three other countries in case Russia fails to achieve compliance with IAAF and WADA regulations.
Before the EOC ExCo, Hickey awarded the EOC Order of Merit to Azerbaijan's First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva for her contribution to the success of the inaugural European Games in Baku last summer. The presentation was held at IOC headquarters.
“Mehriban Aliyeva has played a crucial role in helping the EOC achieve its long-held dream of hosting our own continental Games," said Hickey. "Her leadership as head of the organising committee was inspired and decisive – an approach which was vital to Azerbaijan’s delivery of the Games in only 30 months."
Embattled IAAF president Sebastian Coe, who also heads the British Olympic Association, was not in attendance at the EOC ExCo meeting. ATR is told that Coe was on his way to Dubai where he is the official starter of Friday's IAAF Gold Label marathon.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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