Ukraine team told to avoid Russian media

2016-08-05 17:55
Olympic Rings (File)

Kiev - Ukraine's sports minister on Friday banned his Olympic team from talking to the Russian media while in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games.

The instructions marked the latest sign of tensions between the neighbours whose relations have been frozen since Ukraine's 2014 pro-EU revolution was followed by a pro-Russian insurgency that has claimed more than 9 500 lives.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled on Thursday that 271 Russian athletes could take part in the Rio Games after eliminating 118 suspect competitors in a major doping review.

But Ukrainian Sport Minister Igor Zhdanov said he was unhappy to see some Kiev athletes criticise the IOC for banning some Russians from Rio at all.

Their comments were covered widely by Russian state television and stirred outrage among Ukrainians who view Moscow as their existential foe.

"A tough talk was held with the team and instructions were issued about not talking to the Russian media (in Rio)," Zhdanov wrote on his Facebook page.

Some Ukrainian team members said the ruling was weighed against the Russians because the IOC allowed US athletes who had previously served time out for doping to compete in Rio.

"It is not fair to see members of the US team who served their sentence (for doping) participate at the Games, but the Russian players without a history (of doping) not being able to do the same," Ukrainian runner Nataliya Pogrebnyak said in comments aired on Russian TV.

Her argument echoed remarks made by some senior Russian officials on Thursday.

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