Russian athletes have appeal to compete in Winter Olympics dismissed

Frederick Owens
February 10, 2018

On Friday, the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport's top judicial authority, dismissed the appeals of 47 Russian athletes and coaches against their non-invitation to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, despite the same court repealing earlier bans from the competition handed down by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The 45 Russians who were denied entry include speedskater Viktor Ahn, who won six gold medals in two previous Olympics; former National Hockey League players Valeri Nichushkin and Sergei Plotnikov; Alexander Tretiakov, the skeleton rider who won gold in Sochi; Alexander Legkov, an Olympic champion in cross-country skiing; Elena Nikitina, who won bronze in skeleton at the 2014 Games; and Tatyana Ivanova, a luger who took silver in Sochi.

Fifteen of those who lost their bids on Friday were among a group of 28 who controversially had life bans from the Olympics overturned last week by CAS, which cited insufficient evidence.

"It's clearly disappointing we're still talking about this on the eve of the Winter Games", said Hugh Robertson, chairman of the British Olympic Association.

The IOC was swift to welcome the decision, the latest twist in the Russian doping scandal, saying the ruling "supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes".

"The conditions were processes created to balance the IOC's interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russian Federation".

The IOC is considering an appeal against that decision. "We're not particularly happy with the thought of having athletes that we knew were not clean having the opportunity to compete". He became a Russian citizen to represent the hosts at the Sochi Games. Russian competitors marched behind a neutral Olympic flag at Friday's opening ceremony. All but one of the 169 Russians invited to the Games by the International Olympic Committee accepted the invitation.

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A spokesman for the Olympic Athletes from Russia told AFP: "It's a pity the Russian delegation is not bigger". The CAS said the ban on the contingent athletes and coaches, who sought an invitation to the game, will remain in place.

The IOC in December determined that Russian athletes who proved they were clean would be allowed to compete as neutrals in the Games.

However, the CAS decision may not be the end of the matter. Specifically, Russian officials have not publicly accepted the findings of Richard McLaren, a Canadian professor who outlined the state-sponsored doping system in an independent report in 2016, nor have they allowed WADA officials access to a Moscow laboratory where urine and blood samples of Russian athletes are stored.

The World Anti-Doping Agency welcomed the CAS ruling.

Russia's participation has been fiercely debated among athletes and Canada's team was forced to apologise on Thursday after an alleged altercation at the athletes' village.

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