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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Pass Problems For IOC Member

Russian tennis chief and Olympic official Shamil Tarpishchev blamed "political problems" Friday for his failure so far to secure an IOC accreditation to go to Salt Lake City ahead of the Winter Olympics.

Tarpishchev, a member of the International Olympic Committee, had planned to attend the IOC Session in Salt Lake City on Monday and Tuesday before returning to Moscow for Russia's Davis Cup first round tie against Switzerland later that week. He then hoped to return for the Winter Games themselves.

As an IOC member, he should receive automatic accreditation and entry to the Games but this has not been granted, he said.

He added that unless he was given a go-ahead by the end of Friday he would only travel to the United States on Feb. 10 -- if he has the required documentation -- after the Davis Cup tie where he captains the Russian team.

"This is all linked to politics. My name was in papers published in 1996, on the privatization of several industries, though I had no links with them," Tarpishchev said by telephone.

"But I don't know what exactly the reason for the delay is. If I knew, I could solve it. This is a political problem, not my personal problem."

As an IOC member, Tarpishchev should be allowed automatic entry under the terms of the Olympic charter, as are all athletes and team officials. But the IOC also recognizes the sovereignty of the country hosting the Games.

"I call this a scandal," said Gennady Schvyets, a spokesman for the Russian National Olympic Committee. "The State Department is delaying his accreditation, even though they have no right to do so."

Schvyets said Tarpishchev, once tennis coach of former President Boris Yeltsin, had sent off all necessary documents.

"I can only guess the reason," Schvyets said. "He must have sat with the wrong person at a restaurant, I don't know."

Tarpishchev was one of dozens of sponsors and officials who experienced difficulty in securing permission to enter the United States to accompany the Russian national team. Two Olympic champions, speedskater Lidiya Skoblikova and cross-country skier Vyacheslav Vedenin, appeared at the U.S. embassy for interviews this week and were issued with visas.

"Skoblikova and Vedenin are different cases altogether. They cannot get IOC accreditations. We invited them, but they go as tourists, on a tourist visa," Schvyets said.

A U.S. embassy spokesman said last week that consular officials were working closely with the National Olympic Committee and the Russian Foreign Ministry to clear all visa applications from individuals wishing to attend the Games.

He said he could not comment on any individual cases.

It is not the first time Russian athletes and sports officials -- including Tarpishchev -- have had problems obtaining U.S. visas.

Last year, two Russian Olympic champions were refused visas to compete at the world wrestling championships in New York before the event was moved out of the United States following the Sept. 11 suicide attacks. Several Russian swimmers were also refused permission to attend the world junior synchronized swimming championships in Seattle last August.