A group of 17 anti-doping leaders wants the Russian Olympic Committee banned from the upcoming Winter Games.

In a statement released Thursday, the leaders say "sports leaders and organizations should not be given credentials to the Olympics when they intentionally violate the rules and rob clean athletes."

The statement was signed by leaders of anti-doping agencies in the U.S., Britain, Australia and more than a dozen other countries. It says there should be a path for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals if they can prove they're subject to strong anti-doping procedures.

A report by investigator Richard McLaren uncovered evidence of a state-sponsored doping system inside Russia at the Sochi Olympics and beforehand. The International Olympic Committee has two panels reviewing that report in order to determine Russia's fate for next year.

Russian government officials have denied the existence of a state-sponsored program and a Russian member of the International Olympic Committee told The Associated Press he expects all of his country's athletes to be in South Korea for next year's Winter Olympics.

`'Most of the Russian athletes are training in major competitions" this winter, said Zhukov, who also serves as head of Russia's Olympic committee. `'And they're preparing. I understand all of them are going to Pyeongchang."

The comments from Alexander Zhukov come as two IOC committees head into their 15th month of reviewing the findings of an investigation that found evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping corruption inside Russia.

The inquiry detailed cheating at the Sochi Games and beforehand that affected 1,000 athletes covering 30 sports.

Delaying tactics?

The IOC will receive updates on those reports, one of which was to include reanalysis of 254 urine samples, at its meetings this week. But there are no plans to decide either about individual Russian athletes or the country's eligibility as a whole.

That feels like nothing more than a delaying tactic to some of the IOC's own members, along with a group of anti-doping leaders who called on Thursday for a ban of the Russian Olympic Committee at next year's Games.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all if the fix is in already, just like in Rio," said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who was among those calling for the ban. "We're right back in the same situation, where even if the evidence is a slam dunk, they're not going to have time to make it have any meaningful consequence."

IOC elects new ethics commission chair

Former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has been elected chair of the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission.

The South Korean, who served as leader in the U.N. from 2007 through 2016, will take over for Youssoupha Ndiaye.

In his acceptance speech Thursday, Ban called his new task `'a serious responsibility."

Among his immediate tasks will be a vote-buying scandal involving last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. A Brazilian IOC member, Carlos Nuzman , is under investigation for his alleged role in a $2 million US vote-buying scheme to bring the games to Brazil.

Earlier this week, IOC president Thomas Bach said the committee was awaiting word from Brazilian authorities before determining next steps. One IOC member, Dick Pound, said the committee needs to act more decisively, and the ethics commission should be conducting its own investigation.