Winter Olympics Fell into Doping Row Days Before Start

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Following a controversial ruling that handed dozens of Russian athletes a reprieve, Olympic chiefs have warned that the fight against doping has been undermined gravely days before the opening of the Winter Games,

On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) overturned the life bans of 28 Russians who are accused of doping during the last Winter Olympics that was held in Sochi and upheld the appeals of 11 more partially.

The decision of Cas means that the 28 athletes are theoretically free to compete in Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where the Games begin next week, and in some cases, they will have their medals returned. The 11 athletes remain banned for this year’s Winter Olympics but not from future editions.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), stated: “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.”

Cas determined that there was evidence of violations of the anti-doping rule for the 11 athletes.

The IOC stated that it corroborated its findings regarding a systematic doping effort that was performed by Russia. However, Cas stated that alone was not enough to ban the other 28 athletes, for whom they said that evidence was insufficient.

Lawyers for the former Russian anti-doping co-ordinator turned whistleblower, Grigory Rodchenkov, whose evidence was able to form part of the case against the said athletes, dubbed the decision “

His lawyers added: “The Cas decision only emboldens cheaters, makes it harder for clean athletes to win, and provides yet another ill-gotten gain for the corrupt Russian doping system generally, and [President] Putin specifically.

“Clean sport is dead. The Cas decision proves that certain countries can get away with anything and everything. Today’s decision will forever stand as the low point in sports integrity.”

A spokesperson for Putin has admitted that some Russians doped during the games at Sochi. However, he repeatedly denied a centralised plot and welcomed the Cas verdict.

“We are very glad for our athletes,” stated Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson. “The decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport proves that energetic work to stand up for our rights in court and elsewhere is justified, can be effective and should continue.”

The Russian team remains to be banned from Pyeongchang. However, over 150 athletes from the country have been cleared to compete as neutrals.

Alexander Zhukov, the Russian Olympic Committee chief, stated: “We insisted from the very start that our athletes are not involved in any doping schemes, and, of course, we are now just happy that their honest name has been reinstated by the court and all their awards have been returned to them.”