Ruling out the International Olympic Committee’s evidence as insufficient, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has lifted Olympic doping bans on 28 Russian athletes. The IOC has, however, clarified that it doesn’t mean that those athletes can now seek a late entry into the Winter Olympics.
It was last year when the IOC had banned 43 Russian athletes pertaining to doping offences at the Sochi Olympics, accusing them of being part of a scheme to dope. Grigory Rodchenkov, director of the laboratory, who handled the samples for the tournament, had stated that he had given cocktails of banned steroids to athletes and replaced tainted samples for clean urine on orders from the Russian state sports officials.
However, the CAS has now stated that it "unanimously found that the evidence put forward by the IOC in relation to this matter did not have the same weight in each individual case. In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation was committed by the athletes concerned," a press release read, reported AFP.
Apart from those 28 athletes, there are eleven others who were found guilty of doping and had their lifetime bans reduced to a ban from the Pyeongchang Games only, which starts on February 9. The IOC, is quite understandably, not happy with the decision and will consider appealing to the Swiss Federal Tribunal. They were fast to latch on to those eleven athletes too, claiming that it was “sufficient to establish an anti-doping rule violation” had occurred.
While it was not clear then if any of the 28 Russians can now seek to compete, some of whom have already retired from competitive sports, the IOC was quick to clarify that the CAS ruling "does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited" to the Pyeongchang Games.
The athletes who were reinstated at the 2014 Sochi Olympics include skeleton gold medalist Alexander Tretiakov and cross-country ski gold medalist Alexander Legkov. However, Russia won't win back certain medals, like the men's 4-man bobsled category, where two crew members were disqualified and two reinstated. Both of the gold medallist, who won two-man bobsled crew, remain banned.