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Calls for Russian blanket ban at 2018 Olympics slammed

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Prague (AFP)

A congress of national Olympic committees on Friday slammed calls for a blanket ban on Russian athletes for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, warning against politics interfering with sports.

Meeting in Prague for two days, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) said in its final resolutions that protecting clean athletes "continues to be a top priority."

It added it had "full confidence in the ongoing investigations by the Schmid and Oswald Commissions" looking into doping cases cited in the McLaren report alleging state-sponsored doping in Russia in 2011-2015.

But the ANOC said it was "unacceptable that specific sanctions are already being demanded in the public domain before these two Commissions have even completed their work".

"This includes, in particular, calls by some for a resolution by (the anti-doping agency) WADA for a blanket ban of all Russian athletes for the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, because this would be an infringement of the WADA code."

Russian cross-country skier Alexander Legkov became the first athlete stripped of an Olympic medal from the 2014 Sochi games on Wednesday, based on an Oswald Commission conclusion.

The International Olympic Committee is due to take a decision on the participation of Russian athletes in Pyeongchang in December.

Speaking at a press conference after the congress, ANOC Secretary General Gunilla Lindberg said that "all over the world when we have an investigation, you we don't make comments and you don't judge people before the investigation is finalised."

Jiri Kejval, head of the Czech Olympic Committee hosting the congress, said politics and sports were two different worlds.

"Politicians look at what divides them, we the athletes look at the things that unite us," he told reporters.

"The past must be investigated in a serious process with evidence and documents. But it's impossible to rule somebody out for the future," said Kejval.

"I am optimistic, we want as many athletes as possible at the games, and equal conditions for all."

In the same vein, "we all want North Korean athletes to compete (in PyeongChang) because... the Olympic Charter says politics has nothing to do with sports."

"That's the principle of Olympism."

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