For every other team at the Olympics in Pyeongchang this winter, the announcements of their hockey teams are simple. They give out a list, maybe leave a few spots empty to think it over, and then add in players. Most teams have already finalized their rosters, with Finland being the latest to announce theirs yesterday.

Finland announces their Men’s Olympic roster with some familiar names

The process for the Russian team, banned but not banned for systemic manipulation of the doping control process, is different.

On December 5, the IOC announced that Russia was barred from the Olympics, but they would issue invitations to “clean” Russian athletes and hockey teams would be formed from those lists. It has never been clear who has the final say on who will be  on the teams or who will coach them.  However the former minister for sport, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is banned by the IOC, is the man making announcements in Russia about the Olympic team.

For the men’s hockey team, many of the players expected to form the team are former or prospective NHL players now playing in the KHL. While the league is winding up its regular season play to provide a long break for the dozens of players who will participate on many countries’ teams, the Russian team remains a work in progress. The men’s hockey tournament begins on February 14, and the opening ceremonies, where Russians will not march under their own flag, is on February 9.

The International Court of Arbitration for Sport is in the midst of a week of hearings for Russian athletes accused of doping at Sochi, and the IOC has not formally released the list of names of invited Russian athletes.

Today, multiple news outlets are reporting names of players who are and are not on the list of acceptable athletes in many sports.

Igor Eronko also reports that the full team will be announced on Thursday of this week.

From our point of view in North America, the whole thing can seem like a circus, a pointless circus. I’m not sure whose future behaviour is influenced by a ban that isn’t a ban and a seeming punishment for the Russian Ministry of Sport that still allows them to manage their teams, just not get junkets to South Korea out of the deal.

It has to be asked, if the IOC wants to clean up the games and keep out cheaters, why do they find it acceptable to include a man like Vyacheslav Voynov, who has a criminal conviction for domestic violence on his record as well as a deportation from the United States. He has been allowed to compete in IIHF events in the past, so it seems there is a get out of jail free card for that, but not for doping at the behest of your government.