Appellate court overturns doping bans of 28 Russian athletes a week before Pyeongchang Olympics

28 Russian athletes have lifetime Olympic bans lifted
(Image credit: Francois-Xavier Marit/AFP/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned Olympic doping bans on 28 Russian athletes and reduced the lifetime bans for 11 others, overruling the International Olympic Committee. The IOC said the decision "may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping" and did not necessarily mean the athletes it banned will be allowed to compete in the Pyeongchang Olympics, which begin next week. The 28 Russians can apply for late entry, but "not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation," the IOC said. Some of them have retired from competitive sport.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport heard the appeals of 39 Russian athletes in Geneva last week, and it did not detail its rationale for overturning the IOC. "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," the court said in a statement. CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb elaborated: "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results achieved in Sochi are reinstated," including seven Russian medals from the 2014 Winter Games that the IOC had rescinded.

The IOC banned 43 Russians last year for doping at Sochi and barred Russia from participating in the Pyeongchang Games as punishment for its massive state-run doping program. Russia, which denies the doping program, claimed vindication. The IOC allowed 169 Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag, however. Lawyers for the 28 Russians said they would try to force the IOC to admit the previously banned athletes.

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