Russian speed skater Victor An ‘banned from Winter Olympic Games for doping’

Russia’s short track speed skating star Victor An has been banned from next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018

Russian speed skater Victor An ‘banned from Winter Olympic Games for doping’

MOSCOW: Russia’s short track speed skating star Victor An has been banned from next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after being implicated in allegations of state-sponsored doping, Russian media reported on Monday.
An, the world’s most successful short track speed skater, has been accused in the World Anti-Doping Agency-sponsored McLaren report, TASS news agency reported.
“An has been suspended from participating in the Olympics,” TASS said.
A Russian lawyer said An’s inclusion in the report was “unexpected” because he was not on a list of Russian competitors already barred from the Games over the scandal.
Mikhail Prokopets told Sport Express daily that An would have to miss Pyeongchang because he would have insufficient time to lodge an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before the Olympics begin on February 9.
“We had the names of those suspended beforehand and An was not on this list,” Prokopets said.
“CAS this week will consider the affairs of our Olympians, and An will not have time to get into this hearing, therefore, he will miss the Olympics.”

An, 32, who was born in South Korea as Ahn Hyun-Soo, won three gold medals at the Sochi Games for Russia after switching allegiance to the country in 2011 following a row with South Korean sports officials.
He had previously won three golds at the 2006 Turin Olympics representing South Korea.
He now lives in Russia with his South Korean wife and child.
An had earlier requested permission to compete as a neutral athlete at the upcoming Olympics following the IOC’s ban on Russia’s athletes over the doping allegations.
Dozens of Russian athletes banned by the International Olympic Committee for life over doping began an appeal against their suspension on Monday at CAS, the world’s top sports court.
The week-long hearing includes appeals from 39 Russians who competed at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi that were tarnished by a vast, Moscow-backed doping scheme that included tampering with urine samples, according to multiple independent investigations.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to immediately confirm the reports of An’s ban.
“To protect the rights of the persons involved, the IOC cannot comment on any individual cases but will communicate the invitation list in due course,” it said in a response to AFP.
Svetlana Zhurova — who took gold for Russia in speed skating at the 2006 Olympics and is now deputy of the lower house of parliament — said she did not understand how the Games could go ahead without An.
“Especially (when) the competition is taking place in his homeland. Victor An is without doubt the god of short track. And the IOC has just stripped the competition of its main character,” she said in comments reported by Sport Express daily.


Saudi Women’s Football League launched

Updated 37 min 31 sec ago

Saudi Women’s Football League launched

  • The first season of the WFL, a nationwide initiative, will be held in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam
  • League inaugurated by president of Saudi Sports for All Federation

RIYADH/DUBAI: Community sports for female athletes in the Kingdom took another giant step forward after the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) inaugurated on Monday the Women’s Football League (WFL) at a launch event in Riyadh. 

It is the latest initiative led by SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal to promote grassroots sports activities for budding female and male athletes across Saudi Arabia.

SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal (L) (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“The development of the WFL came about because we understood there was a need for community-level football for women,” Prince Khaled told Arab News.

“This community league is the first activation of many different community-level sports for women, and it will serve as a great model in terms of league infrastructure and inclusion metrics, contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life program.”

Fully funded by the SFA, the WFL is a nationwide community-level league for women aged 17 and above.

In its first season, it will take place in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, with more cities potentially joining in due course. 

With a prize of SR500,000 ($133,285) at stake, the WFL will consist of preliminary rounds taking place across the three cities to establish regional champions.

The winners progress to a knockout competition, the WFL Champions Cup, to determine the national champion, with the date of the final to be announced later in the season. 

Prince Khaled thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, for their “boundless support.”

 

 

The WFL “is one more major leap forward for the future of our country, our health, our youth, and our ambitions to see every athlete be recognized and nurtured to their fullest capability,” said Prince Khaled. 

Women’s football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup raised its profile to unprecedented levels, inspiring greater participation across the globe.

Inspiration for female footballers at the grassroots level has come from closer to home, Prince Khaled said.

“I think a big inspiration for young Saudi women to get involved in community-level football is the Saudi Greens Team,” he said, referring to the all-female team established by the SFA.

“The Saudi Greens placed second in the Global Goals World Cup last year, and this was a huge moment for young female athletes in the Kingdom.”

Prince Khaled sees the WFL as a pivotal initiative of the SFA and a major driver behind the realization of the Vision 2030 reform plan, which strives for a healthier and more active society.

SFA Managing Director Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini believes that the WFL will significantly improve the visibility of women in sports and prioritize their fitness, health and wellness.

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“Empowering women comes through positive and proactive programs like the WFL that have been conceptualized to continue to have a lasting impact on health, fitness and wellbeing,” she said.

“The SFA, committed to putting women at the forefront of our mission to grow Saudi Arabia’s healthy and active community, continues to engage public and private sector stakeholders to realize this aim together.”

She said this is a qualitative shift in women’s sports in the Kingdom. Spearheaded by Sara Al-Jawini, the SFA’s director of sports development, the federation “studied all aspects of the new league, conducting continuous workshops to ensure the wider WFL infrastructure and lasting impact metrics,” Al-Husseini added. 

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

The SFA has ensured that the football pitches are ready for the start of the WFL in March, with all-female organizational and technical teams in place to manage the various committees working toward delivering the league.

The WFL infrastructure teams will address and complete administrative requirements, refereeing, and technical and medical issues. 

Coaching and refereeing courses are planned to further develop the country’s infrastructure for women in sports.

The SFA’s investment in the WFL includes both women’s coaching and women’s refereeing training to fully flesh out the program’s potential and maintenance. 

At a later stage, the SFA and WFL will be communicating details on additional leagues and football events, as well as festivals targeting girls aged 16 and below.

These competitions, under the banner “Beyond Football,” will focus on building a strong base for future participation at the community level, beginning with girls aged 5.