The FISU Executive Committee has began a two day meeting in Almaty ©FISU

The International University Sports Federation (FISU) Executive Committee started a two-day meeting before the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Winter Universiade here.

FISU President Oleg Matytsin welcomed all Executive Committee members and presented his report to those in attendance.

He offered a stern defence of the anti-doping system in place at the Kazan Universiade in 2013 in a blog written for insidethegames, where the sample-swapping programme put in place by Russia was first trialled.

Richard McLaren confirmed when releasing part two of his report into Russian state sponsored doping that the 2013 Universiade in Kazan was used as a testing ground for the manipulation of doping samples, which was then established across major events such as the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Today, Matytsin maintained the defence he put forward last month.

“Recently, FISU has attracted attention after being referenced in the second part of the McLaren report," he said.

"There can be no doubt that FISU is blameless for any possible breach of anti-doping rules.

"FISU has been cooperating with the World Anti-Doping Agency and following its regulations since the creation of the WADA Code.

"And that close cooperation is continuing with our follow-up on the McLaren report.

"We should make every effort, meanwhile, to ensure that we actively contribute to anti-doping measures by promoting the textbook we created in partnership with WADA through the network of our partner universities.”

During his speech, Matytsin also discussed the importance of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and added that FISU is also in talks over an agreement with the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).

“ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah’s positive response to our approach opens the opportunity of working together with this respected organisation," said Matytsin.

Oleg Matytsin once again defended the Kazan 2013 Universiade's doping controls ©FISU
Oleg Matytsin once again defended the Kazan 2013 Universiade's doping controls ©FISU

"The work on an agreement with ANOC can be expected to start immediately after the Universiade.

"We believe this cooperation will result in a better recognition for many National University Sports Federations, which currently do not enjoy a very significant status in their countries.

"This step represents a real and very positive benefit for many in the FISU Family."

The afternoon session started with the internal report chaired by Marian Dymalski, regarding the preparations of the Almaty 2017 Universiade.

"With hosting the Winter Universiade in Almaty we set an ambitious goal and FISU assisted us”, general director Nail Nurov said.

"Two ice arenas were built and all sport venues were renovated, while the newly constructed Athletes’ Village will become a housing project.”

Nurov summed up the latest developments of the last two weeks including the opening of the accreditation centres, the torch relay was launched in Astana, the capital of the Kazakhstan, the athletes' village was officially opened and the transportation infrastructure was fully prepared for operation.

The 28th edition of the Winter Universiade is due to begin here tomorrow with approximately 2,000 athletes from around 58 countries competing for medals.

The 12-day event will see 85 sets of medals awarded across a dozen sports.

Featuring on the programme are Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, Nordic combined, short track, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating.

Ice hockey is the only sport on the schedule for the first two days, with the Opening Ceremony set to take place on Sunday (January 29) at the 12,000-capacity Ice Palace.

More than 3,000 volunteers, including foreigners and representatives of Kazakhstan's 14 regions, will be involved in Almaty 2017 activities, while over 30,000 international tourists and guests are expected to attend the festivities.

A total of 127 international technical officials and about 600 national technical delegates will also be engaged with the event.