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New Russian Olympic Committee President After Doping Scandals

Former fencer, Stanislav Pozdnyakov is the newly elected president of the Russian Olympic Committee
Former fencer, Stanislav Pozdnyakov is the newly elected president of the Russian Olympic Committee

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has elected a new president after its previous leader stepped down after doping scandals that have marred the committee for years.

ROC vice president and former Olympic fencing champion Stanislav Pozdnyakov defeated former swimmer and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Aleksandr Popov in the May 29 ballot by 214 votes to 56.

Pozdnyakov led the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" delegation at February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after the Russian team was officially banned over systemic doping.

Pozdnyakov replaces Aleksandr Zhukov, a politician from the ruling United Russia party who had led the ROC since 2010 and spent considerable time battling allegations of widespread doping in Russian sport.

Zhukov announced his retirement earlier in May, saying he wanted to focus on his political career.

Zhukov now also has to relinquish his position as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). His departure from the IOC will leave Russia with two members instead of three, unless the IOC votes to replace him with Pozdnyakov.

Zhukov's IOC membership was suspended for almost three months until the Russian Olympic body was reinstated after the Pyeongchang Games.

Pozdnyakov won three Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2000.

Pozdnyakov joins a group of ex-fencers who manage Russian sports, along with Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov and billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov, who is the head of the International Fencing Federation.

The IOC president, Thomas Bach, is also a former fencer.

The ROC on May 29 also elected Igor Levitin, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to replace Pozdnyakov as vice president.

In a message to the ROC posted on the Kremlin's website, Putin thanked Zhukov for his service and said that it was important "to continue efforts to improve the efficiency of the doping-countering system."

Putin also said the ROC will be responsible for achieving "absolute intolerance" on doping.

With reporting by AP, TASS, Interfax, and Reuters

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