Alexander Zhukov stepping down as Russian Olympic Committee president
Alexander Zhukov has led the ROC since 2010 and spent much of that time battling allegations of widespread doping in Russian sport. AP  

MOSCOW — 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 Games as neutral athletes.

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

Zhukov has led the ROC since 2010 and spent much of that 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 ROC.

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 an IOC member and his departure from the ROC would leave Russia with two members instead of three, unless the IOC votes to add his successor.

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

That membership was suspended for almost three months until the Russian Olympic body was reinstated after the Pyeongchang Games. Zhukov therefore lost his position chairing an IOC panel overseeing preparations for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

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