Court overturns bans on 28 Russian athletes

Court overturns bans on 28 Russian athletes

PARIS – Agence France-Presse
Court overturns bans on 28 Russian athletes

Twenty-eight Russian athletes have had their Olympic doping bans overturned and their results from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi reinstated after their appeals were upheld by sport’s highest tribunal yesterday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said in a statement that it had found insufficient evidence during last week’s hearing in Geneva that the 28, banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), were guilty of anti-doping violations in Sochi.

However, it is not clear yet whether any of the 28 will be able to compete in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which start on Feb. 9.

“With respect to these 28 athletes, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 are reinstated,” said the Lausanne-based tribunal.

Eleven other athletes were confirmed by CAS to have committed doping violations. However, CAS reduced their lifetime Olympic bans to a suspension from this year’s Games. The IOC had previously banned Russia from Pyeongchang as a result of its “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system. Individual Russian athletes are able to compete as neutrals if they can prove their anti-doping credentials but the IOC said on Thursday that the 28 would not necessarily be invited to Pyeongchang. “Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation,” it said.

The confirmation of eleven cases “clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014,” it added.

The IOC regretted that CAS “did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases.”

Cross-country skier Alexander Legkov, who won gold in the 50 kilometers and silver in 4x10 km, and Alexander Tretyakov, who won gold in the men’s individual skeleton, were among those to be cleared. Bobsleigh double gold medallst Alexander Zubkov was one of the eleven whose doping offences were confirmed. Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov said the CAS ruling had restored the “good name” of Russian athletes, Interfax news agency reported.