KHL undecided about allowing players to go into the Olympics

The president of the Kontinental Hockey League said Wednesday he’s waiting to discover how many Russians will be prohibited from the Pyeongchang Olympics before deciding whether he’ll allow his players to compete in South Korea.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the organizing committee for the 2014 Sochi Olympics but now president of the KHL, said “we will understand who is going and who is not going and then the league will react accordingly.”

The Moscow-based KHL, widely considered the most powerful league beyond the NHL, formerly expressed outrage at bans for Russian athletes in different sports tainted by doping in the Sochi Olympics.

No allegations have been made of wrongdoing in Sochi from the Russian men’s hockey team.

With the NHL already from the Pyeongchang Olympics, any KHL withdrawal could impact more than just the Russian group, whose current roster is entirely KHL-based. Teams like Canada, America and Finland are also counting on KHL players for Pyeongchang.

Russians in Pyeongchang must compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under a neutral flag as IOC punishment for doping offences in the 2014 Olympics.

The KHL also published a statement on its website Wednesday supporting Russian players competing under the IOC states, but then removed it. The league’s media division stated it had been shot down because it was posted by mistake and that Chernyshenko’s remarks took precedence.

Last week’s IOC ruling did not accuse Chernyshenko of any wrongdoing in Sochi, but did order him removed from an IOC body overseeing preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Also Wednesday, the Russian Hockey Federation — that accepts Russians competing as impartial athletes in Pyeongchang — seemed set for a dispute with the IOC over uniforms.

Russians in Pyeongchang are expected to compete in IOC-approved uniforms without Russian national symbols or colours. However, the RHF believes it can nevertheless use its present Nike-manufactured jerseys, which are red with a large Russian double-headed eagle emblem throughout the chest.

“There is a discussion round the uniform,” said Roman Rotenberg, the federation’s senior vice-president. “It has been produced already and there are certain technical questions.”

Rotenberg predicted there was a “90 percent chance” the Russian hockey team could wear the red Nike uniforms when competing in Pyeongchang.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail