Late Winter Olympics appeal of 47 Russians rejected by CAS
Russians argued they had been wrongly excluded from games by IOC panel
47 Russian Athlete athletes and coaches have lost their appeal to be allowed entry into the Winter Olympics at the last minute. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected the appeals of 47 Russian athletes and coaches to be allowed entry into the Winter Olympics at the last minute.
The Russians had argued that they had been wrongly excluded from Pyeongchang by an International Olympic Committee eligibility panel, which was set up to determine which Russians were considered “clean” after widespread state-sponsored doping at the Sochi Winter Olympics was uncovered.
However Cas ruled the panel’s decisions were fair and not carried out “in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner”. It means 168 Russians will compete at these Games, albeit under the Olympic Athletes of Russia banner.
“We welcome this decision which supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes,” an IOC spokesperson said.
Sir Hugh Robertson, the chair of the British Olympic Association, also welcomed the decision. “It’s clearly disappointing that we are still talking about this on the eve of a Winter Olympics,” he said. “But the decision is reassuring. We want our athletes to be competing against the very best but in the knowledge they are facing clean athletes.”
In explaining its ruling, Cas’s arbitrators said the IOC’s decision to create 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.
It also concluded that there was no evidence the the IOC had improperly exercised their discretion.
Meanwhile, the chair of UK Sport Katherine Grainger insisted the loss of snowboarder Katie Omerod, who was considered a medal prospect in slopestyle and Big Air, would not derail Team GB’s plans for its greatest ever Winter Olympics.
“First and foremost it is incredibly sad for the whole team that Katie will miss out,” she said. “She was definitely one of our medal hopes but we have a strong team in many of the sports and we are still hoping for many great performances.”
Omerod under went an operation in the early hours of Friday morning on a broken heel, having earlier fractured her wrist.
“Her health is the priority,” added Grainger. “But the great thing is she has always come back stronger from injuries. And she is at a young enough age that she still has a long enough career ahead of her.”
Robertson insisted that Omerod’s injuries were a freak accident, and that the snowboarding and ski areas in Pyeongchang were excellent. “The message coming back from our athletes about the facilities is that they are second to none,” he added.