Winter Olympics 2018: Ban On 47 Russian Athletes And Coaches Upheld, 169 Russians To Compete As Independents
A group of 47 Russian athletes has lost a last-minute appeal to their suspensions for doping just as the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea have begun.
Russian Olympic athletes doping ban news
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected the Russians’ plea to overturn a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to allow them to compete over doping concerns.
One of the athletes banned from competing in Pyeongchang is Viktor Ahn, a highly-decorated speed skater who was born in South Korea and competed for the nation before becoming a naturalized Russian citizen.
Nevertheless, 169 Russians will compete as independents.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said the CAS’s decision was understandable but disappointing.
“It is difficult for CAS to take a decision in the light of previous pressure. If they had allowed [the invitations] it would have been a shock,” said Mutko, a former sports minister who has himself been banned from the Olympics for life.
The group contesting the decision included 28 athletes who had life bans from the Olympics lifted by the IOC last week, when CAS ruled there was insufficient evidence they had gained unfair advantage from a Russian government-sponsored doping program.
The Pyeongchang Olympics run from Feb. 9 to 25 in South Korea.
The 169 sportspeople who have been invited to attend will compete under the Olympic flag rather than a Russian flag. Should they win any medals, the Olympic anthem will be played.
Russia’s systemic state-sponsored doping program was thoroughly investigated, and the findings revealed that the illicit practices — which included tampering with athletes’ urine samples — dated back to the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in Sochi, Russia.
Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said the “timing of these decisions just before the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang is good as it will reassure athletes and others that only Russian athletes (who) have met strict anti-doping guidelines will be participating in the Games.”
SOCHI, RUSSIA – FEBRUARY 23: Gold medalist Alexander Legkov of Russia celebrates in the medal ceremony for the Men’s 50 km Mass Start Free during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)