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Russian athletes appeal against IOC's Olympic bans, court says

Russian athletes appeal against IOC's Olympic bans, court says
By Reuters

06/12/2017 at 09:35Updated 06/12/2017 at 10:43

Twenty-two Russian athletes banned for life by the International Olympic Committee for doping offences at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are appealing their ban, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Wednesday.

Their appeal comes a day after the IOC banned Russia from next year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, allowing only invited clean athletes to participate as neutrals.

"The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered 22 appeals filed by Russian athletes against decisions taken by the Disciplinary Commission of the International Olympic Committee," CAS said.

It said the athletes had asked CAS to rule before the start of the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea.

Among those appealing are gold medalist bobsledders Aleksandr Zubkov and Dmitry Trunenkov, cross-country gold medalist Alexander Legkov and champion skeleton racer Aleksander Tretiakov.

The IOC found the athletes violated anti-doping rules as part of a wider, systematic doping effort by Russia at the Sochi Games. It barred them from the events they had competed in, confiscated all medals they had won and banned them from taking part in any future Olympic games.

Lifetime Olympic bans have been overturned at CAS in the past, with the court ruling that athletes who had been suspended for doping could not be punished again by being left out of the Olympics.

The 22 Russians are set to miss February's Games whatever happens, because doping violations carry bans of two to four years for first-time offenders.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Russia's priority was now to protect the interests of Russian athletes and that the country needed to maintain ties with the IOC.

The IOC banned Russia on Tuesday from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games after evidence emerged of an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system.

The door was left open, however, for Russians to compete as an "Olympic Athlete of Russia" as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.

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