In total, 43 athletes were banned for life from the Olympics after an IOC investigation into a state-run doping scandal at the Sochi Games in 2014. Some 169 Russian athletes have been invited as neutrals to the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Russian Sports Minister wants the IOC “to accept the CAS ruling and allow” Russian athletes “unconditional rights to take part in the upcoming Olympic games."
Lausanne (AsiaNews) – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the IOC suspensions against a number of Russian athletes after it ruled that in 28 cases evidence was "insufficient" to prove doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Court said that the appeals of 11 athletes were partially upheld because evidence "was sufficient to establish an anti-doping rule violation".
Responding to the ruling, the IOC expressed its "satisfaction on one hand and disappointment on the other" at Thursday's decision, made eight days before the Games.
It also said that it would consider its own appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal because the court decision “may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping.”
For the IOC, the ruling "does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited". The athletes can still be "declared ineligible" for this month's Games (9-25 February) "instead of a life ban from all Olympic Games".
For the Olympic movement’s governing body, “the confirmation of the anti-doping rule violations for 11 athletes because of the manipulation of their samples clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system at Sochi 2014”. At the same time, it “regrets very much that the panels did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases.”
For his part, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said: "Our guys and all of us are happy that justice has finally triumphed. Today's rulings confirm that many of those who were accused are clean athletes."
In his view, “The athletes who fought for their rights have finally won, and are, naturally, happy and looking forward to continuing their careers.” Now “They expect the International Olympics Committee to accept the Cas ruling and allow them unconditional rights to take part in the upcoming Olympic games."
Likewise, Russian Olympic Committee head Alexander Zhukov said, "We are simply happy now that the court has restored the athletes' good name and returned their awards."
In total 43 Russians were banned for life from the Olympics following the conclusion of an IOC investigation into evidence of state-sponsored Russian doping at their home Games in Sochi in 2014.
The IOC investigation - known as the Oswald Commission, tasked with looking into individual cases of doping – was opened following the findings of the McLaren report.
The latter found that Russian athletes benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015, speaking of "a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy".
The IOC also set up another investigative body – the Schmid Commission – to investigate this wider evidence of institutional doping. As a result, it banned Russia from competing in Pyeongchang, but 169 Russians have since been invited to take part as neutrals.