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IOC declines request to invite 15 Russian athletes, coaches to Olympics



Moscow, Feb 5: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) review panel chaired by Valerie Fourneyron has declined a request to invite 13 more athletes and two more coaches from Russia, cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), to the PyeongChang Olympic Games, the IOC said in a statement.

CAS earlier upheld appeals filed by 28 Russian athletes who had received life Olympic bans over alleged doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, reports Tass news agency.  

Following the decision, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) requested the IOC to invite 13 Russian athletes and two coaches to the PyeongChang Olympic Games. 

Among them were skeleton racers Maria Orlova, Aleksandr Tretyakov and Elena Nikitina, cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexander Bessmertnykh, Natalia Matveeva and Yevgeniya Shapovalova, speed skaters Olga Fatkulina and Alexander Rumyantsev, luger Tatiana Ivanova, as well as coaches Albert Demchenko and Sergei Chudinov.

"Based on the recommendation of the invitation review panel, the Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group (OAR IG) has met to discuss the request by the suspended Russian Olympic Committee to invite 13 more athletes and two more coaches to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018," the statement reads. 

"To give further assurance that all information available to the Panel had been analysed and assessed, the Panel reviewed all 13 athletes submitted by the suspended ROC for OAR invitation places using the same methodology as its initial review of 16 and January 17 on a case-by-case basis, individually and anonymously," the document added.

"Following the detailed analysis conducted by the Panel, its members observed that there were additional elements and/or evidence, which could not be considered by the IOC Oswald Commission because it was not available to it, that raised suspicion about the integrity of these athletes. 

"The additional information included data from the LIMS database, traces of prohibited substances, evidence of steroid profile manipulation and further confidential information provided to the Panel by WADA. 

"In addition, the Panel agreed that the decision of the CAS had not lifted the suspicion of doping or given the Panel sufficient confidence to recommend to the OAR IG that those 13 athletes could be considered as clean," the statement said.

The IOC earlier suspended the ROC based on the reports released by the Oswald Commission and another IOC commission, headed by former Switzerland President Samuel Schmid, banning the national team from participating in the 2018 Olympic Games. 

The IOC accused Russia of systematic violations of anti-doping rules, particularly during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. At the same time, the IOC intends to respect the rights of clean athletes, allowing them to participate in the upcoming games as "Olympic Athletes of Russia".

The Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang will be held on February 9-25.

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