Russian athletes refute reports they supported Ukrainian call for ban

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) responded to claims that its athletes had supported calls from Ukrainian athletes for a blanket ban

Claims that several Russians including Olympic champion fencer Sofiya Velikaya supported a letter from Ukrainian athletes calling for a ban on Russia and Belarus are entirely false, a Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) spokesman has said.

An open letter addressed to IOC president Thomas Bach and IPC counterpart Andrew Parsons was published on Sunday by sporting movement Global Athlete, which listed a host of Ukrainian athletes as calling for a blanket ban on Russia and Belarus.

It also claimed that the notion was ‘supported’ by Russian fencers including Velikaya, who is chair of the ROC Athletes’ Committee.

However, that was refuted by ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov.

“The information that several Russian athletes, including the Chairman of the ROC Athletes’ Commission Sofia Velikaya, signed an open letter of their Ukrainian colleagues to the leadership of the IOC and the IPC, is a common deception of the audience,” said Vybornov on Monday. 

“The names are mentioned in the [Inside The Games] sports news website with a reference to the tweet of the internet portal of dubious reputation [Global Athlete].

“This news cannot be regarded in any other way but as a fake published by its initial source. This is confirmed by Sofia and other athletes.  We have already sent an official request to the above-mentioned websites to remove the false information.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday that its Executive Board was recommending that federations across all sports do not invite Russian or Belarusian athletes and officials to international competitions, due to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

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