Friday, 23 February, 2018

Evidence against Russians strong despite CAS blow: IOC

International Olympic Committee member and Court of Arbitration for Sport president John Coates walks off stage after delivering a report on recent activities by CAS during the 132nd IOC Session prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Kore IOC bars 15 Russian athletes from Winter Olympics
Kristopher Love | 08 February, 2018, 13:28

In the next few days, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) - sport's top arbitration body - will hear an appeal by a group of Russian athletes who are challenging the decision to exclude them from the Winter Olympics, nearly a month after they were excluded from the competition.

The IOC has invited 169 Russians to compete in Pyeongchang as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" under a neutral flag, but has said it reserves the right to review and appeal the CAS decision.

"We will take an individual view of each of these athletes before reaching a decision", he told a press conference, adding that the process would be finished before the start of the Games.

The CAS, sport's highest court, ruled last Thursday there was insufficient evidence to uphold suspensions imposed by the International Olympic Committee on the 28 Russians after an investigation into state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Thirteen Russian athletes and two coaches whose life bans for doping were lifted by a top sports court may be invited to take part in the Pyeongchang Olympics, the IOC said Saturday.

The 13 active athletes and two retired athletes working in support roles were among 28 athletes whose bans were overturned by CAS on Thursday.

The IOC is refusing to invite 13 of the 28 athletes that are still active to Pyeongchang.

CAS ruled there was insufficient evidence to show they had broken doping rules during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

While commenting on the issue, Russian Olympic Assembly chief Alexander Zhrkov praised CAS decision.

The IOC said at the time the CAS decision could have a "serious impact on the future fight against doping", and added that it could appeal against the decision at the Swiss Federal Tribunal, the country's highest court.

"The IOC also suspended the ROC based on the reports of alleged doping violations released by the Oswald Commission IOC commission, headed by former Switzerland President Samuel Schmid, banning the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games".

"We have to change and learn from this hard situation", Bach said.

Bach said the International Olympic Committee would wait for a reasoned decision from the CAS before launching any appeal but called the decisions "extremely disappointing and surprising".

The Games begin on Friday and end on Feb 25, with a fresh doping scandal threatening to erupt on the eve of the quadrennial event.

Russian officials and athletes have said they're also planning more legal action.

The organizing committee reported no confirmed cases among athletes.