Business

Russian athletes lose appeal to compete in 2018 Winter Olympics

Russian athletes lose appeal to compete in 2018 Winter Olympics

An unidentified Canadian Olympic team official, possibly a coach, although no one seems quite sure, may or may not have said some unfriendly things about doping to a Russian counterpart in a cafeteria at the just-opened Pyeongchang Winter Games.

"The CAS arbitrators have considered that the process created by the IOC to establish an invitation list of Russian athletes to compete as Olympic Athletes from Russia could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision". The vetting process cleared those aforementioned 168 athletes. On Friday, the court upheld the IOC's right to decide who can compete. Russian officials have refuted the allegations while admitting that the Russian sports had some doping-related issues.

"With a huge disappointment, the members of ROC's Athletes' Commission have found out about decision of IOC's Invitation Review Panel not to invite 13 Russian athletes and 2 coaches fully acquitted by (the CAS) to 2018 Winter Olympics", the commission statement said.

An IOC spokesperson said, "We welcome this decision which supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes".

The group of 47 who were turned away includes Victor Ahn, a short track speed skater who has won multiple gold medals in previous Olympics, including in Sochi.

Also out are cross-country skiing gold medalist Alexander Legkov and skeleton gold medalist Alexander Tretiakov, as well as potential medal contenders in biathlon, luge and bobsled. They could even result in other Russians being sent home.

"It's great because there's a place where they're always waiting for you, where they're always happy to see you", said Dmitry Davydov, a fan from St. Petersburg who was wrapped in the national flag.

"A small glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark and sordid affair", USA anti-doping chief Travis Tygart said.

Successful appeals would be a blow to the International Olympic Committee, which would have to accept athletes it deems suspicious.

In a telephone interview, Reedie told The Associated Press: "I am delighted at the decision and the way they expressed it".

According to Belov, the ongoing developments are hard for the athletes involved in them, however, the athletes should abstract their minds from external issues and focus on sports, should "go, think about nothing and win". Athletes can get their heads down and go. "To start with, we had a lot of equipment intended for us with the flag, a really big assortment, but we weren't issued it".

But the IOC allowed a large group of Russians deemed clean to take part as "Olympic Athletes from Russia".

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But the Sports House, which was inaugurated on Friday for the fans of Russian Olympic athletes, makes up for the blandness of their neutral uniforms.

But Russia - which is supposed to be a country non grata at the Pyeongchang Olympics because of its outrageous, systematic doping program - is still a very big part of these Winter Games.

"It's clearly disappointing we're still talking about this on the eve of the Winter Games", said Hugh Robertson, chairman of the British Olympic Association. But the International Olympic Committee has banned the former sports minister Mutko for life. Anger is the proper human response to the farce the International Olympic Committee and Russian Federation are perpetrating in Pyeongchang. "You can't keep them out.' But Russia doesn't have an Olympic team".

IOC President Thomas Bach responded by claiming a Canadian athlete had thanked him for the way the IOC responded to the crisis during his visit to the Athletes' Village the previous day.

"Undoubtedly, everybody including the athletes think that the decision is unfair, because representatives of the Russian team have been barred from the competition without reasonable explanation".

Friday's verdict, he said, is "a small semblance of justice for clean athletes".

It is not exactly the height of the Cold War, but there is always a frisson when the United States of America meets Russian Federation as it did in the opening curling match of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"We are all Russian patriots, all athletes".

Russia escaped a blanket ban at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and there, too, tensions arose between the Russians and other competitors who branded them cheats.

US bobsledder Nick Cunningham said he has tried to not focus on the will-they-or-won't-they drama surrounding the Russians. If you're not a clean athlete then you should not compete.

"I would like to hope that this situation will change and normalize".