MOSCOW (AP) – Six-time Olympic gold medalist Viktor Ahn wants to know why he has been barred from next month’s Pyeongchang Games.
Ahn is a short-track speedskater who was born in South Korea but switched allegiance to Russia ahead of the 2014 Sochi Games. Russian officials say the International Olympic Committee has refused to grant Ahn an invitation amid its vetting of the country’s athletes for possible doping links.
“It is outrageous that there is no concrete reason which explains my exclusion from the Olympics, and furthermore people now view me as an athlete who used doping,” Ahn wrote in an open letter to IOC President Thomas Bach.
Competing in South Korea would have been “an especially significant part of my career for several reasons,” said Ahn, who won his first three Olympic titles while competing for his native country. “I hope that the IOC will ultimately declare their reason for my exclusion, so I will be able to defend my honor and dignity.”
Ahn’s letter was published Friday by the Russian Skating Union.
The IOC hasn’t confirmed which Russians will be invited to compete in Pyeongchang, and hasn’t explained any individual decisions. However, it has said newly obtained records from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory played a role in the decision-making.
Russia announced an Olympic team of 169 athletes on Thursday. The list didn’t contain Ahn or some other Russian medal contenders, including cross-country skiing world champion Sergei Ustyugov and biathlete Anton Shipulin.
The IOC refusals for some are separate from the doping bans for 43 Russian athletes because of what the Olympic body ruled was a doping program and cover-up at the Sochi Games.