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World’s top sports court lifts lifetime ban on 39 Russian athletes


Geneva, Feb 2: The world's top sports court overturned lifetime Olympic bans on 39 Russian athletes for doping violations following the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

The Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) also said on Thursday that 28 of the athletes have had all their bans lifted and their results reinstated, reports Xinhua news agency. 

The CAS said it was upholding the appeals from 28 out of the 39 Russian athletes given lifetime bans by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for doping violations at the Sochi Games.

"In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes concerned," said the court ruling.

"With respect to these 28 athletes, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled, and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 are reinstated," the court said.

In 11 cases, the evidence collected was found to be sufficient to establish an individual anti-doping rule violation.

The court declared the athletes to be ineligible for the next edition of the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, starting next week, instead of a life-ban from all Olympic Games.

Following the ruling, CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb was quoted by the Swiss national broadcaster, RTS as saying, "This does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent."

He noted that "in their case, due to insufficient evidence, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled, and their individual results achieved in Sochi are reinstated."

The IOC confirmed that because it had suspended the Russian Olympic Committee in December after evidence emerged of widespread doping, Russian athletes could only participate with its permission.

"Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation," the IOC said in a statement. It said it could challenge the CAS rulings at Switzerland's supreme court.

An Olympic disciplinary panel, chaired by IOC executive board member Denis Oswald, last year investigated 46 Russian athletes and found 43 guilty of complicity in a Sochi doping programme.

Two CAS appeal panels heard 39 of those cases last week in Geneva.

The CAS judges did not agree with the IOC panels that it was proven many individuals had their steroid-tainted samples swapped for clean urine at the Sochi testing.  

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