Russia says court rejected appeal from athletes under pressure

Feb 09, 2018, 19:08 IST | AFP

Russia said today the Court of Arbitration for Sport was under pressure from Olympic officials when it rejected a last-minute bid from 47 Russian athletes to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Games

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Russia said today the Court of Arbitration for Sport was under pressure from Olympic officials when it rejected a last-minute bid from 47 Russian athletes to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Games. "It's difficult for CAS to make decisions against the backdrop of an earlier pressure," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told Interfax news agency, referring to objections from the International Olympic Committee. He said that if the Russian athletes implicated in doping had been allowed to take part in the Games now "it would have caused shock."

The deputy prime minister in charge of sports said the IOC had in place "opaque, controversial" procedures to decide who attends the Games and who does not. Mutko said this created an impression that the Olympic Games had turned into "a private party and there are a lot of attendance criteria." On Friday, 47 Russians implicated in doping lost a last- minute court bid to take part in the Pyeongchang Olympics, just hours before the opening ceremony.

The applicants, who included Korean-born speed skater Victor An, had asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn an IOC decision not to invite them to South Korea. The IOC was swift to welcome the decision, the latest twist in the Russian doping scandal, saying the ruling "supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes". The Russian situation has proved highly contentious in the build-up to Pyeongchang, after their team was banned. But a certain number of "clean" Russian athletes were allowed to take part as neutrals. However, the CAS decision may not be the end of the matter.

A source close to the IOC told AFP that the 47 Russians have also lodged a case with a Swiss civil court in Lausanne. Russia's suspension in December follows the uncovering of a systemic doping conspiracy culminating at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, where host nation Russia topped the medals table.

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