Olympic doping bans lifted for 28 Russians
Twenty-eight Russian athletes had their Olympic doping bans overturned yesterday, throwing the International Olympic Committee's policy on the country into turmoil.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling was set to reinstate seven Russian medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including gold in men's skeleton and men's 50-kilometre cross-country skiing.
"This does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent, but in their case, due to insufficient evidence, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled, and their individual results achieved in Sochi are reinstated," CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said in Pyeongchang.
The IOC said that it had taken note of the CAS decision "with satisfaction on the one hand and disappointment on the other," adding that the decision "may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping".
The 28 who had their bans lifted could now seek late entry into the Pyeongchang Olympics, but the IOC said "not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation".
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the ruling "can't fail to please us, and it confirms our position that the overwhelming majority of our athletes are clean athletes".
Eleven more Russians were ruled to have been guilty of doping but had lifetime bans imposed by an IOC disciplinary panel two months ago cut to a ban only from the Pyeongchang Games, which open next week.
In the urgent verdicts, the two CAS judging panels who heard 39 appeal cases last week in Geneva and took testimony from Russian whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov did not give detailed reasons.
"In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation was committed by the athletes concerned," the sports court said in a statement.