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Russian Olympic Chief Steps Down After Ban In Pyeongchang

Russian Olympic Committee President Aleksandr Zhukov
Russian Olympic Committee President Aleksandr Zhukov

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee is stepping down from his post, three months after athletes from his country were forced to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics as neutral athletes.

Aleksandr Zhukov said he wants to focus on his political career as a deputy speaker of parliament for the ruling United Russia party.

Zhukov, 61, has led the Olympic committee since 2010 and spent considerable time battling allegations of widespread doping in Russian sport.

"In the complex situation which has occurred in international sport in recent times, it is very important that the leader who will take charge of the Russian Olympic Committee works at the ROC on a full-time basis," Zhukov said in a statement issued by the committee. "I am unable to do that at the moment due to my heavy workload in parliament."

His intention to leave paves the way for Vice President Stanislav Pozdnyakov to take charge at scheduled elections on May 29. Pozdnyakov is the only confirmed candidate.

Pozdnyakov led the "Olympic Athletes From Russia" delegation in February, when the country's official team was banned because of doping.

Pozdnyakov, like International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, is a former fencer who won an Olympic gold medal.

Zhukov has been a member of the International Olympic Committee and his departure from its Russian counterpart would leave Russia with two members instead of three, unless the international committee votes to add his successor.

Zhukov will remain a member until the May 29 election to replace him, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on May 2.

Zhukov's membership on the international committee was suspended for almost three months until the Russian Olympic body was reinstated after the Pyeongchang games. As a result of that, he lost his position chairing a panel overseeing preparations for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and Reuters