Russian doping scandal looms over Winter Olympics

Feb 11, 2018, 05:02
Russian doping scandal looms over Winter Olympics

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) secretary general, Matthieu Reeb, says Russian athletes banned from the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics will be allowed to participate if the court's Ad Hoc Division upholds their appeals.

CAS announced on Wednesday afternoon that the case of 32 Russians had been adjourned. "I'll just say that we came here to defend our good name and we were fully listened to by the CAS panel", said luge coach Albert Demchenko, who was at the hearing.

But the IOC left open a loophole when it said a large group of "clean" Russian athletes could take part under a neutral flag as "Olympic Athletes from Russia".

Other athletes whose cases will be heard include Viktor Ahn, a six-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track speedskating, and Alexander Legkov, a cross-country skiing gold medalist.

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A statement published on the CAS website said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - the respondent in the Russian case - had been given a "deadline until 9.00am on 8 February 2018 to file written submissions" on the athletes whose appeals were being reviewed. The inquiry conducted by Canadian attorney Richard McLaren also found that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, the country's Ministry of Sport, officials for the WADA-accredited Moscow drug testing lab and even the Federal Security Services (FSB) - the successor to the Soviet era KGB - were involved in covering up positive drug tests for Russian athletes and the "manipulation of" drug testing, even tampering with tests for Russian athletes at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.

"Thus, we call for stronger leadership from sport to protect clean athletes and their right to doping-free sport".

Any Russians who win late invitations would compete under "Olympic Athletes from Russia" because the Russian team is formally banned for doping at the Sochi Olympics.

The IOC also banned 43 Russians for life from the Olympics following a further inquiry. They were all banned previous year for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but those verdicts were overturned last week by CAS, sports' highest court.

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A group of 32 Russians who were denied invitations to the Olympics because of evidence linking them to past doping had their case heard Wednesday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport but no decision was made. Many more have been barred. "This is our standpoint, our experts have been maintaining contacts with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in this regard", he added.

The total cost of preparing the games is about $20 billion, with the rest of the money coming for the city of Tokyo and the national government.

Bach declined to speculate on the outcome of the hearings, but expects CAS president John Coates and his WADA equivalent Craig Reedie to discuss the way forwards.

As Bach presides Wednesday over meetings with roughly 100 International Olympic Committee members, the Court of Arbitration for Sport - sport's top legal body - is expected to decide appeals by 32 Russian athletes seeking spots in the Games.

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