United States Figure Skating have performed a U-turn to distance themselves from the comments of their President Sam Auxier saying Russia should be banned from competing at Pyeongchang 2018 due to doping problems.
Speaking during the US Figure Skating Championships last month, Auxier suggested that the world's largest nation should receive a punishment fitting of the crimes outlined in the McLaren Report.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-commissioned probe alleged that around 1,000 Russians across Summer, Winter, non-Olympic and Paralympic sport were implicated in a doping manipulation scheme at events taking place between 2011 and 2015.
Disciplinary proceedings have been opened by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) against 28 Russians who competed at Sochi 2014.
Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport has reported that ladies singles figure skating champion Adelina Sotnikova is among those on the list.
“I mean, it’s state-sponsored, it was a huge programme, well-coordinated, to cheat and they should pay a pretty stiff penalty," Auxier told reporters.
"I think the only way the IOC and the ISU (International Skating Union) maintain any level of integrity is to take a strong stand and weigh a strong penalty for those actions.”
But USA Today have now published a letter sent by USA Figure Skating to the ISU and all ISU members distancing themselves from these comments.
"These opinions were Auxier's own and not the official position of US Figure Skating," said the letter which has also been published as a statement on their website.
"US Figure Skating's position is to await the IOC and ISU's decision on this matter, and US Figure Skating will abide by the findings."
Extra fuel to the fire has now been provided by an intervention from Didier Gailhaguet, the French official who stood unsuccessfully against Dutchman Jan Dijkema in the ISU Presidential race last year.
Gailhaguet, who served a three-year ban from the sport due to his involvement in a judging scandal at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics, claimed Auxier's claims were “cartoonish” and a "deeply unrealistic proposal".
In another letter sent to ISU members and published by USA Today, he accused him of hypocrisy due to the doping problems prevalent across American sport.
These comments were strongly rebutted in the US Figure Skating letter.
"This letter puts forth a false premise about some type of 'request' and 'proposal' for action," the section on Gailhaguet's intervention reads.
"On the contrary, no request or proposal was ever suggested.
"This misrepresentation of US Figure Skating’s position, and the further 'speculation' outlined in the letter, is a disservice to all ISU Members."
It is considered unlikely but not impossible that the Russian team will ultimately receive any blanket suspension from competing under their own flag at the South Korean Games.
No specific timeline has yet been given for the IOC investigation.