Russian ice hockey star Kovalchuk tells 'clean' athletes to go to Olympics: R-Sport

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian ice hockey star Ilya Kovalchuk on Tuesday told his country’s clean athletes to make sure they took part in the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics if they satisfied strict conditions that showed they had a doping-free background.

He was speaking after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday it had banned Russia from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after evidence emerged of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system.

“We all perfectly understand that the IOC decision is pure politics and we understand against whom it is directed,” Kovalchuk told the R-Sport news agency.

“It was clear that there would be such a decision. But if the athletes go there, it will unite the country. All clean athletes must go.”

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn