Last ditch Winter Olympics appeal by Russian athletes rejected - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Last ditch Winter Olympics appeal by Russian athletes rejected

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An eleventh-hour attempt by dozens of Russian athletes to join the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has failed.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Friday it had dismissed appeals by 47 Russian athletes and coaches who had asked it to overturn a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to invite them to the Pyeongchang Games.

It will be a crushing disappointment to the Russian athletes, some of whom have traveled to South Korea in the hope they would be granted the right to compete.

The head of Russia's bobsleigh federation, Sergey Parkhomenko, said the decision had a "political context" and the group would be taking legal action.

"We're disappointed with CAS decision... we believed in better but received this instead. We will file lawsuits in other courts demanding compensation for material costs. We'll go to the federal Supreme Court of Switzerland," Parkhomenko said, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

In a statement, the IOC said it welcomed the CAS decision, "which supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes."

Russia is banned from competing in the Games over doping allegations, but some athletes were invited to compete after proving they were clean.

The court said that decision "was designed to balance the IOC's interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russia," and ruled it was not carried out in a "discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner."

Widespread ban

Russia was banned from taking part in the Games in December after the IOC found the country had engaged in "systemic manipulation" of anti-doping rules, though Russian athletes who could prove they were clean were "invited" to compete under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR).

They will wear a uniform with that name on it, and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies for Russian athletes.

But dozens of Russian athletes who had hoped to compete under the neutral flag were deemed ineligible by the world Olympic body.

"The list on which the Invitation Review Panel (IRP) based its considerations (on) covers a wide range of information," said Valérie Fourneyron, the Chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA).

"It includes, for example, evidence of suspicious Steroid Profile values, DNA inconsistencies and irregularities of the Athlete Biological Passport, as well as evidence provided necessarily need to be transmitted to the athletes."

The IOC confirmed that only athletes who have "fulfilled the pre-games testing requirements," including the IRP's criteria, "as well as the required reanalysis from stored samples," would be allowed to compete at the Games.

More than 150 Olympic Athletes from Russia are currently listed on the official Pyeongchang Games website.

One of those missing out on the Games is one of the most successful Olympic short-track speed skaters of all time, Viktor Ahn.

The ban will be a double blow for Ahn, who was born in South Korea, and previously competed for the country at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, before becoming a naturalized Russian citizen.

Long-shot appeal

A number of the athletes whose appeal was dismissed Friday had their lifetime bans for doping overturned by CAS earlier this month.

Despite this, the IOC still refused to invite them, saying it had lingering suspicions about potential anti-doping violations.

They had hoped CAS would force the IOC to allow them to compete, but the court ruled against them, saying there was no evidence the IOC had "improperly exercised their discretion."

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted there had been "instances of doping use in Russia," but said the issue was a global problem.

Addressing supporters in Moscow, Putin said "there were instances of doping use, true -- I want the audience to know this and the whole country to know this."

But he added "there are many such examples around the world, but no one is making a big show of it."

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