MOSCOW- Russian athletes competing at next month's Winter Olympics in Beijing are expected to win about 30 medals, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee said on Monday.

"We have a method to determine the number of medals we might win. Unfortunately there is large margin of error because of COVID-19..." RIA news agency quoted Stanislav Pozdnyakov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), as saying.

"We are ready to fight for 30 medals. We have a very good national team. We are ready to fight for a spot in the top three (in the medal table)."

Figure skater Kamila Valieva, cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov and speed skater Natalia Voronina are among the Russian favorites to step onto the podium in their respective disciplines at Beijing.

Russian athletes are barred from competing at major international events under their flag and with their anthem until December 2022.

The sanctions, initially imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) but later halved to two years on appeal, are to punish Moscow for providing doctored laboratory data to international anti-doping authorities that could have helped identify drug cheats.

At the Beijing Games, which run from Feb. 4-20, Russians will be competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee under the acronym "ROC", as they did at the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year.

Russia was also deprived of its flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea as punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games. Many Russians were also banned from the 2016 Rio Games.

Russia has recognised some flaws in its implementation of anti-doping rules but denies running a state-sponsored doping programme.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris) ((;))