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  • ATR First: Russia Set to Lose IOC Member


    Zhukov at an IOC Session (ATR)
    (ATR) Around the Rings understands that Alexander Zhukov will not run again for the Russian Olympic Committee presidency, relinquishing his IOC roles.

    A Russian source tells ATR that Zhukov is not expected to stand in the ROC elections on May 29. Stepping down from the post means he would lose his IOC membership and force him to quit as chair of the Beijing 2022 Olympic coordination commission.

    A rising star of the IOC since becoming a member in 2013, Zhukov’s reputation has been severely damaged by the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal. The bombshell 2016 McLaren Report detailed an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the country’s anti-doping system before and during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Zhukov, a government minister, has never been implicated in any wrongdoing but shoulders some responsibility for the scandal that happened on his watch as head of the ROC.

    In February, the IOC reinstated the Russian Olympic Committee days after the close of the PyeongChang Winter Games after only a two-month suspension linked to the doping scandal; dozens of Russians were excluded for doping violations although 168 athletes competed as neutral Olympic athletes. But Russia’s failure to accept the findings of the McLaren Report, which provided evidence of a huge institutional doping cover-up since 2011 involving over 1,000 Russian athletes, has also hurt Zhukov’s image.

    The Russian source told ATR that Stanislav Pozdnyakov, first vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee, is favorite to be elected as Zhukov’s replacement at the ROC elections next month.

    The 44-year-old four-time Olympic fencing champion is currently the sole candidate for the post, although ATR is told that other contenders could emerge in the coming two weeks. Candidates for the ROC presidency must register their interest in the post 14 days before the May 29 election.

    In a strange turn of events, the IOC was on Friday forced to deny reports that Zhukov had been reinstalled as head of its Beijing 2022 watchdog, triggering speculation that he may not return to the post. A report by TASS, the Russian state-run news agency, said Zhukov had been reinstated in the role, even quoting an IOC spokesperson confirming it.

    On Friday, Zhukov was listed on the IOC’s website as chair of the Beijing 2022 watchdog, which he has helmed since 2016. But on Monday, his name had disappeared from the page, replaced by Juan Antonio Samaranch, who has temporarily replaced Zhukov amid the fallout from the Russian doping scandal.

    “There is no change, Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch is still interim chair of the coordination commission for the XXIV Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022,” an IOC spokeswoman told ATR.

    Today, the IOC declined to comment when asked if Zhukov has now informed the Olympic governing body he will not be running for the ROC presidency and therefore will relinquish his IOC membership.

    Zhukov’s departure would mean Russia’s presence on the IOC membership is down to two – Shamil Tarpischev and Yelena Isinbayeva. Both Vitaly Smirnov and Alexander Popov are honorary members.

    The situation regarding Zhukov’s future is likely to become clearer at this week’s IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne. Samaranch is due to present an update on Beijing 2022’s preparations.

    The IOC's Beijing Olympic coordination commission is scheduled to hold its third inspection visit to the Chinese capital in September.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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