December 20, 2017 / 4:15 PM / in a year

Russia's Bosco wants brand disassociated from Winter Olympics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Bosco, the exclusive supplier of clothing to the International Olympic Committee from next year, will ask the IOC not to use its brand at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Mikhail Kusnirovich, board head for the group, told Reuters.

Mikhail Kusnirovich, board head for retail group Bosco di Ciliegi, covers the company's logo with his hand on clothing for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at GUM department store in Moscow, Russia December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

In an interview on Wednesday, Kusnirovich said he took the decision because of the IOC’s ban on Russia competing at the Games, which take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February.

The IOC banned Russia after saying it had found evidence of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system, an allegation Moscow denies. The IOC left the door open for clean athletes to compete as neutrals however.

“I think that in the near future, I will come up with a proposal to the IOC... to deactivate our rights... Even such beautiful chic clothes - let them keep them, but the Bosco brand and what we own... I will ask for that not to be activated.”

Bosco won the rights to be the exclusive supplier to the IOC last year. Kusnirovich, also the founder of the group, said his company had already supplied all the clothes to the IOC for the upcoming Games.

It had been the official supplier to the Russian Olympic team since from 2002 until last January when the contract expired. It also wore a number of teams including Ukraine, Spain and Serbia.

Kusnirovich said he was disappointed by the decision to ban Russia from the Olympics. The country’s competitors will be presented at the Games as Olympic Athletes from Russia and will compete as neutrals under an Olympic flag, not a Russian one.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday it was maintaining its ban on the Russian Paralympic Committee but had yet to make a final decision on whether its athletes can compete at the Pyeongchang Games.

“We are doing this to be proud of ourselves, so that we’d be happy...” Kusnirovich said.

“That’s why I’ve taken the decision today not to enable (the brand to be used) and (to) drop the activation of our sponsorship rights until the National Olympic Committee of Russia gets its accreditation back and its rights are restored.”

Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Ken Ferris

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