IOC could appeal against lifting of Russian lifetime bans

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) could challenge a decision to overturn lifetime Olympic bans imposed on 28 Russian athletes which it says may have a "serious impact on the future fight against doping".

It was announced on Thursday that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld appeals lodged by the athletes who had been banned by the IOC as punishment for doping offences at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

CAS also partially upheld 11 appeals made by athletes challenging sanctions made by the IOC, with a further three having their hearings postponed until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - which start next week.

The IOC stated that it may launch appeal of its own after CAS ruled there was insufficient to establish that anti-doping rule violations were committed by the 28 to have had their bans revoked, also reinstating their results from the Games four years ago.

An IOC statement said: "On the one hand, the confirmation of the Anti-Doping Rule Violations for 11 athletes because of the manipulation of their samples clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

"On the other hand, the IOC regrets very much that - according to the CAS press release - the panels did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases. The CAS required an even higher threshold on the necessary level of evidence than the Oswald Commission and former CAS decisions.

"This may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping. Therefore, the IOC will analyse the reasoned decisions very carefully once they are available and consider consequences, including an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

"With regard to the participation of athletes from Russia at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the decision of the IOC Executive Board (EB) of 5 December 2017 remains in place. It makes it clear that, since the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is suspended, Russian athletes can participate in PyeongChang only on invitation by the IOC.

"The result of the CAS decision does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited to the Games. Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation. In this context, it is also important to note that, in his press conference, the CAS Secretary General insisted that the CAS decision 'does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent'." 

CAS stated that there was sufficient evidence to establish that 11 athletes were guilty of anti-doping rule violations and declared them ineligible to compete in the Games in South Korea, but lifted their lifetime bans.

Bobsleigher Maxim Belugin was the only Russian athlete of 43 who did not submit an appeal against the IOC decision to impose lifetime bans at the end of last year.

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