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Russian athletes’ 11-hour appeal to compete at winter Olympics rejected


Matthieu Reeb, secretary general of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), announces the court’s decision regarding dozens of Russian athletes banned for doping, in Pyeongchang on February 1, 2018.<br />The Court of Arbitration for Sport on February 1 lifted life bans on 28 of the 43 Russians accused of doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. / AFP PHOTO / François-Xavier MARIT

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has quashed an attempt from 45 Russian athletes and two coaches to gatecrash their way into the Winter Olympics at the 11th hour.

The Russians had argued they had been illegally excluded from the Games by the International Olympic Committee, but the CAS rejected their appeal just nine hours before yesterday’s opening ceremony.

It spares the International Olympic Committee further embarrassment over the controversial saga of Russian participation in these Games.

They have already come under fire for allowing 168 evidently clean athletes to compete under the banner of ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’ in the wake of the nation’s state-sponsored doping scandal.

But with the party of 47 previously implicated in doping, there would have been allegations of farce had they succeeded with their late bid for entry into Pyeongchang 2018.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb confirmed the verdict in Pyeongchang, but did not take any questions.
The most notable athlete to be kept out is South Korea-born speed skater Viktor Ahn, who holds six gold medals. He became a Russian citizen to represent the hosts at the Sochi Games.

The CAS statement said: ‘In its decisions, the CAS arbitrators have considered that the process created by the IOC to establish an invitation list of Russian athletes to compete as Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision.

“Although the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended, the IOC nevertheless chose to offer individual athletes the opportunity to participate in the Winter Games under prescribed conditions – a process that was designed to balance the IOC’s interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russia.’

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