Alexander Zhukov has confirmed that he will not run for the ROC Presidency ©Getty Images

Alexander Zhukov has confirmed today that he does not intend to stand for another term as President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) later this month.

This means that, barring a change of rules, he will automatically lose his membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when he relinquishes the position at elections on May 29.

Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the current first vice-president of the ROC and who headed the Olympic Athletes from Russia team at this year's WInter Olympic Games in Pyeonghang, is now the strong favourite to replace him.

He will not automatically become an IOC member on his election, however, meaning Russia will be down to two - Shamil Tarpischev and Athletes' Commission member Yelena Isinbayeva.

Zhukov, the ROC President since 2010, said in a statement today that he will focus on his work as First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma in Russia.

"In the recent difficult situation in international sports, it is very important that the head, who heads the Russian Olympic Committee, work in the ROC on a permanent basis," he said, according to Russian media including official state news agency, TASS.

"I do not have such an opportunity now due to the heavy workload in the State Duma. 

"Therefore, after weighing all the pros and cons, I decided not to participate in the election of the President of the ROC."

Stanislav Pozdnyakov has vowed to stand for the ROC Presidency ©Getty Images
Stanislav Pozdnyakov has vowed to stand for the ROC Presidency ©Getty Images

It is not yet clear if Zhukov intends to resume his role as chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, but it appears unlikely.

Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch is currently occupying this position on an interim basis and presented, rather than Zhukov, on the subject at today's IOC Executive Board meeting here.

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said today that no final decision on this will be made until after the ROC elections.

It is still possible that an alternative could emerge to challenge Pozdnyakov, but it currently appears unlikely.

Potential options such as European Shooting Confederation President Vladimir Lisin and Russian Presidential aide, Igor Levitin, are not considered likely to stand. 

Pozdnyakov, 44, is also a four-time Olympic and 10-time world champion in fencing.

He is also considered an ally of influential International Fencing Federation President, Alisher Usmanov.

Usmanov, in turn, is believed to be close to another former fencer, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Another fencer, Pavel Kolobkov, winner of the Olympic gold medal in the individual épée at Sydney 2000, is currently Russia's Sports Minister.