Alexander Zhukov: “I hope that competitions on the Winter Sports Day will unite tens of millions of people”

President of the Russian Olympic Committee took part in the solemn send-off ceremony for the Russian Youth Olympic team competing in the XII European Youth Olympic Festival to be held in Austria and Liechtenstein. After the official part of the event he responded to questions from the media:

– Does the Russian team leave for the Youth Festival with the aim to win?

– Of course we hope that our team – a very strong team I should say – will perform traditionally strongly, because Russia is a winter sports country and our ice hockey players, figure skaters, skiers, biathletes are very promising young athletes. However, compared to the previous Festival this time some sports will be missing in the program. Whereas two years ago we won a lot of medals in these sports (for example, short-track). However, we believe that our youngsters will perform successfully.

 – The young athletes, do they face the same everlasting problems as our main team?

– To my mind, we have created all the conditions for the youth team to prepare. It seems that we only had some difficulties with the Alpine Skiing disciplines… However, in our traditional sports we should have no problems. Just look at our ice hockey players – they are simply great, not to mention the team captain. The Olympic banner was passed into the reliable hands. I am sure about that.

– We have a new sporting event ahead – the All-Russian Winter Sports Day. Which activities are planned?

 – It’s true, we have decided to hold Winter Sports Day starting this year. This year it will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the start of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. This time it will be held on February 7, and in the following years it will be held on the first weekend after the start of the Sochi Games. The traditional competitions, that have already been held all around the country, such as the Russian Ski Track, will be joined by new mass actions and activities at the skating rinks. I hope that they will unite tens of millions of people through sport. Speed Skating, Figure Skating and of course Ice Hockey tournaments will be held. We also want to hold a big event in Sochi on February 7th, in order to once again remember the perfectly staged Sochi Games. Champions and medalists of the 2014 Games, as well as our honored veterans will take part in it.

 – The All-Russia Athletic Federation is now going through a hard period because of the disqualification of several race walkers. What is your assessment of the situation?

 – Of course it’s very sad that a lot of our race walkers were caught using prohibited substances. But we are holding a completely unique view – we’ll continue to fight against doping and those athletes who were caught in using doping will be disqualified. The same applies to coaches. The heads of the federations should bear the responsibility.

But we have a completely unique position – a ruthless fight against doping must and will continue, and those athletes who are found in its application, shall be disqualified. The same applies to coaches. Should bear the responsibility and the heads of federations heads of federations.