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Mozer criticizes IOC decision to exclude Stolbova

Coach calls directive to bar pairs skater 'an injustice and an absurdity'
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Nina Mozer, coach of two-time Olympic medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, said that Stolbova's exclusion from the eligible athlete list for the upcoming Olympic Games is "difficult to explain from the standpoint of common sense and the Olympic ideals." -Getty Images

The coach of Russian pairs skater Ksenia Stolbova called the decision to exclude Stolbova from the 2018 Olympic Winter Games "an injustice and an absurdity."

In a text message sent Thursday responding to questions from icenetwork, Nina Mozer said she was informed about the International Olympic Committee's action on Stolbova, a 2014 Olympic gold and silver medalist, only two hours before the Figure Skating Federation of Russia announced it Tuesday.

Mozer said she hoped the IOC would change its mind.

"Our team counts on sanity and changes in IOC decisions that concern honest athletes who...have the full right to compete in the Olympic Games," Mozer wrote.

Mozer said that no member of her coaching team nor any of the pairs athletes she has coached, including Stolbova and her partner, Fedor Klimov, have ever figured in any "doping scandals" and insisted that doping would have a negative effect on a skater's performance.

"Figure skating is a very hard coordination sport, and the use of doping only destructively affects the quality and ability of skating," she said.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that the IOC panel empowered to clear Russian athletes to compete in PyeongChang would not have excluded an athlete without "serious indications" of some involvement in doping.

"If an athlete is not on the list (of athletes approved to compete), then the independent panel has serious indications by different sources and by different means," Bach said, according to Reuters.

"There could be a suspicion, there could even be an ongoing procedure. There could be many factors which did not lead to the satisfaction of the panel."

Faced with criticism of the bans from Russian sports officials, especially those of the Russia figure skating federation, the IOC released Thursday a list of 17 criteria it had used to determine which athletes were eligible to compete under the neutral designation "Olympic Athlete from Russia."

The Russian Olympic Committee had asked the IOC to give specific reasons why some "leading Russian athletes" had not been cleared. Mozer is seeking similar information.

Stolbova and Klimov won gold in the team event and silver in pairs at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. They also won silver at last week's European championships.

"The artificial deletion of the generation of Russian athletes...to which Ksenia Stolbova belongs is difficult to explain from the standpoint of common sense and the Olympic ideals," Mozer wrote.

The IOC released a statement Tuesday in which it said, "Not being included on the invitation list does not necessarily mean that an athlete has been doped -- it should not automatically cast doubt on their integrity."

The official list of the Russian athletes picked for PyeongChang will not be released until Saturday. Some names of those barred, like those of Stolbova and ice dancer Ivan Bukin, have been made public by Russian sports organizations, including the Russian Olympic Committee.

From a list of 500 prospective athletes submitted by Russia, the IOC cleared 389 to potentially compete in PyeongChang. The ROC announced Thursday that it intended to send 169 athletes to Korea.

This all comes after the ROC was itself banned from next month's Olympic Games after evidence emerged of a massive doping and doping control manipulation program that allegedly was state sponsored.