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The Olympics organizers aren't happy that a court lifted Russian athletes' lifetime ban

The IOC says it could have a “serious impact” on the committee's fight against doping.

The International Olympic Committee said a Swiss court’s decision Thursday to overturn lifetime bans imposed on more than two dozen Russian athletes could have a “serious impact” on the IOC’s fight against doping.

Just a week before the Winter Olympics in South Korea kicks off, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne upheld the appeals of 28 athletes given lifetime Olympic bans for doping violations during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, saying there was insufficient evidence to show they had broken the rules.


"From the start, we insisted that our athletes were not involved in any doping scheme," Alexander Zhukov, head of Russia’s Olympic committee, told the state-run Interfax news agency.

Eleven other athletes were found guilty of doping but had their lifetime bans cut to just a ban from this year’s Winter Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee imposed lifetime bans over the systemic cover-up of doping by Russia’s athletes, confirming investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency showing Russian sporting officials had run a yearslong scheme to conceal doping by dozens of athletes.

The ruling could see seven medals restored to the Russian team that were won at the Sochi Olympics in Russia in 2014.

The International Olympic Committee said the decision could “have a serious impact on the future fight against doping.” The committee said it would be studying the reasoning behind the decisions closely, and may consider an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

While the lifetime bans have been overturned for the 28 athletes involved, the IOC said Russia would still be barred from officially participating at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, which kick off Feb. 9. Instead, the committee has invited 169 Russians to compete under a neutral flag using the name "Olympic Athletes from Russia."

While 169 Russian athletes will compete in PyeongChang next week, because the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is suspended, those athletes will compete under a neutral flag and no matter how many medals they win, Russia’s official medal tally will be zero.


In relation to the 28 athletes whose lifetime bans have been overturned, they won’t be automatically invited to participate in South Korea, but Russia said it would be seeking exemptions.

“We will try to file applications for those who are ready and who meet the quotas and qualifications to participate in the Olympic Games,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitali Mutko told the Interfax news agency.

Despite Russia’s Olympic Committee being suspended by the IOC, President Vladimir Putin held a patriotic send-off for the country’s athletes in his vast Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow Wednesday.

Putin used the occasion to suggest the ban had been politically motivated.

“It’s difficult to gain victory in modern sport at the highest levels,” Putin said. “It’s doubly difficult when sport gets mixed up with events and phenomena clearly unrelated, alien to sport. With politics or something else.”

Cover: Russia's Alexander Tretiakov struggles to start his first run in the men's Skeleton World Cup race in Innsbruck, Austria. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, to reinstate Tretiakov as gold medal winner of the men's skeleton at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson, file)