With the Pyeongchang Olympics just over a week away, 28 Russian athletes formally had their doping bans overturned by the International Olympic Committee on Thursday.
The ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which cited insufficient evidence, means seven Russian medals from the 2014 Sochi Games will be reinstated.
“CAS panels unanimously found that the evidence put forward by the IOC in relation to this matter did not have the same weight in each individual case,” a media release said. “In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes concerned. With respect to these 28 athletes, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 are reinstated.”
However, the ruling may not mean the athletes will be allowed to participate in the upcoming Pyeongchang Games.
“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 it had taken note of the CAS decision “with satisfaction on the one hand and disappointment on the other,” adding 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.”
Among the reinstated athletes were two skiers who won gold in Sochi. From the AP:
Those reinstated from the Sochi Olympics include skeleton gold medalist Alexander Tretiakov and cross-country ski gold medalist Alexander Legkov. Russia won’t win back some medals, such as in the men’s four-man bobsled, where two crew members were disqualified and two reinstated. Both of the gold medal-winning two-man bobsled crew remain banned.
According to Reuters, Russia will now ask the IOC to grant permission to participate in Pyeongchang to the athletes who had their bans overturned. Per the AP, some of those athletes have already retired, so it is not immediately known how many of the affected Russians will seek approval to compete in South Korea.
Russia had previously been banned from competition by the IOC due to widespread doping, though 169 Russian athletes have been invited to compete under a neutral flag.
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