Kovalchuk says all clean Russian athletes must go to 2018 Olympics

Ian McLaren

A ban placed on Russia by the International Olympic Committee ahead of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea has not deterred Ilya Kovalchuk.

As far as he is concerned, anyone who is able should make the trip to South Korea.

"We all perfectly understand that the IOC decision is pure politics and we understand against whom it is directed," Kovalchuk said, according to Reuters.

"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."

A ruling banning the Russian Olympic committee in 2018 was made Tuesday as a result of widespread and systemic doping, but individual athletes and teams may still compete as Olympic Athletes of Russia under a neutral flag.

Whether Russia attempts to prohibit the KHL from allowing its players to participate remains to be seen, however.