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  • Mutko Implies Russia Not Interested in Hosting European Games


    (ATR) Russian Federation Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko says “Russia has never sent an application to host the European Games.”
    Russian sport minister Vitaly Mutko at SportAccord (ATR)

    The Russian minister added that “Russia is absolutely busy until 2020” hosting numerous international sporting events, including the IIHF World Hockey Championships next month and notably FIFA World Cup 2018, among others, to be concerned about staging the recently launched European Games. Mutko made the comments to Around the Rings at the SportAccord Convention on Monday in Lausanne.

    It has been widely speculated that the second edition of the European Games in 2019 would most likely be awarded to Russia with Sochi and Kazan co-hosting the multi-sport event despite ramifications from an on-going doping scandal.

    European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey asserted that Russia was still the preferred candidate to host the event while at the EOC Executive Committee meeting at Lausanne’s ANOC headquarters in January.

    However, the EOC leader 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.

    An official announcement regarding the host city for the second European Games – following Baku staging the inaugural event in June – had initially been expected at the EOC General Assembly in Prague last November. At the time, Hickey said the decision needed to be delayed in the wake of the systemic doping scandal and WADA suspending accreditation of a Moscow lab.

    The European Olympic Committees released a statement Monday regarding status of the 2019 European Games contradicting Mutko’s comments made in the Olympic capital.

    EOC president Hickey reads statement on European Games in Prague in November (ATR)
    It read: “In accordance with our policy throughout the host city selection process, the EOC will not comment on the specifics of our negotiations with potential hosts of the 2019 European Games. We will confirm, however, that our position today is consistent with our position at our General Assembly in November 2015: there has been no official change to Russia’s status as preferred host, either from the EOC or from the ROC as the party with whom we have been in talks.”

    “However, given the economic and sporting pressure Russia is currently under, the EOC continues to work on an alternative plan to hosting the European Games in Russia in 2019 as a matter of good governance and risk management.

    As part of this process the EOC is actively engaged in constructive discussions with a small number of cities regarding the potential hosting of the 2019 European Games. We will continue to conduct these discussions privately and through the proper channels, in order to allow discussions with all parties to continue in a positive manner while prospective hosts work on the model most suitable to their needs.”

    The status of Russia’s athletics team participating at Rio 2016 in August remains questionable as Mutko and officials try to re-establish credibility as an International Athletics Association Federation task force continues to monitor the situation.
    Maria Sharapova the highest profile Russian athlete to test positive for meldonium (Getty Images)

    Mutko also noted on Monday that Russia has stepped up its anti-doping efforts as numerous athletes have failed tests for meldonium, a drug that was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency on January 1.

    Measures taken have included the hiring of two experts from Australia and Lithuania to assist RUSADA becoming re-accredited for testing, a draft law making certain doping practices criminal offenses in Russia and the hiring of an entirely new supervisory board to oversee the All Russian Athletics Federation.

    Additionally, Mutko said that all prospective Russian track and field athletes hoping to compete in Rio will be tested not less than three times before the Games in conjunction with UK Anti-Doping and the IAAF.

    Reported by Brian Pinelli in Lausanne

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