- Lizzy Yarnold will blank her Russian skeleton rivals if they are added to the team
- Russia is trying to force another 60 athletes and staff into the Winter Olympics
- The Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to rule over whether they are allowed
- It would see skeleton pair Elena Nikitina and Maria Orlova added to the field
Lizzy Yarnold will show a cold shoulder to her Russian skeleton rivals if the disgraced nation succeeds on Friday in forcing another 60 athletes and staff into the Winter Olympics.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to rule imminently over whether the 51 athletes and nine support staff must be allowed into Pyeongchang 2018 against the International Olympic Committee’s will after a series of last-ditch legal challenges.
In the hugely controversial event that the contingent are allowed to join 168 other Russians in the Olympic Athletes from Russia team, then it would see skeleton pair Elena Nikitina, the Sochi 2014 bronze medallist, and Maria Orlova added to the field just hours before the Opening Ceremony.
Lizzy Yarnold will blank her Russian skeleton rivals if the nation force through more athletes
Nikitina and Orlova were both implicated in extraordinary allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia and defending skeleton champion Yarnold says she would blank them in protest if they make it to the start line.
Yarnold, who on Thursday was named as Britain’s flag bearer for the ceremony, said: ‘My emotional state with certain Russian athletes is to have no emotion. I’ve been through a rollercoaster these last few years. I enjoyed having conversations with Elena (Nikitina) and Maria (Orlova) but now whenever I see them I will look at the floor and carry on.
‘I’ve worked too hard to be here to allow someone else to draw me into a situation that I don’t want to be in.’
She added: ‘I think it has been quite an emotional situation and it has been challenging over the last few years knowing that there are doping issues in our sport. We all have to see how it goes over the next 24 hours. I don’t know which way it will go.
Yarnold will show a cold shoulder to Elena Nikitina and Maria Orlova if they are added to team
‘I can try and say, “I compete against those I compete against”. (But) when it comes to the competition, yes it is difficult if the Russians will be here competing. I believe the IOC were correct in not inviting them, or re-inviting, to compete in Pyeongchang. But essentially it is me, my sled and the track so that is my focus.’
It has been widely deemed a shambles around the Winter Olympic community that the extent of Russian participation remains undetermined going into the day of the official opening of the Games.
It was met with incredulity when the IOC made their soft call to allow in 168 Russian athletes with no proven doping background last month. But that has developed to fury in some quarters now that many implicated Russians could be let in due to a ruling from CAS last week, which decreed their Pyeongchang bans must be overturned on the grounds of ‘insufficient evidence’.
US skeleton slider Katie Uhlaender joined the row on Thursday, saying: ‘I think we’re all turning to the IOC for reform and to take a strong stance to give us that Olympic spirit back. We’re holding to an Olympic spirit that feels like it’s dying.’
Yarnold was named on Thursday as Britain’s flag bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony