CAS reinstates Russian athletes banned by the IOC

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Twenty-eight Russian athletes have had their lifetime bans from the Olympics overturned, throwing the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) policy on Russian doping into turmoil just days before the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

CAS said in its judgement: "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".

The board meeting was scheduled to be a low-key affair until the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted life bans on 28 Russian athletes in defiance of the IOC's own disciplinary commission.

The glass containers had been touted as the next generation of sample bottles since being released a year ago, part of the ongoing effort to avoid a repeat of the Russian doping scandal that dogged the 2014 Winter Olympics and still reverberates today. The Russian team initially won 33 medals in Sochi, including 13 golds, to put it ahead of Norway and Canada.

However, the International Olympic Committee said "not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation".

"We must continue to send a strong message that doping can not be tolerated in Olympic competition".

The CAS decision to clear 28 Russian athletes may influence the IOC and other worldwide federations, analysts told RT.

But for Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, CAS's ruling proved Moscow never orchestrated a state-sponsored doping programme.

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin met with Russian athletes set to compete in Pyeongchang and asked their forgiveness for "not having been able" to shield them from the doping scandal.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee said it was "very concerned" about claims the new sample bottles, provided by Swiss manufacturer Berlinger, could be opened, and the Swedish anti-doping agency said it would stop using them.

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The IOC notes that CAS said the urgent ruling "does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent".

More important than the fate of 28 athletes is the damage the affair has done to the sport as a whole.

Those reinstated at the Sochi Olympics include skeleton gold medalist Alexander Tretiakov and cross-country ski gold medalist Alexander Legkov.

Russian Federation is now appealing to the International Olympic Commuty to allow these 28 athletes to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

"There were very few questions about individual athletes", he said. And they do retain the right to block all of the athletes who have been cleared today on this very unusual evidence that was put forward.

So, you could say the Russians have already scored gold before the 2018 Winter Games have even started!

"That is why, I believe that there should be no euphoria on our part and we need to treat this with calm", he said.

"I don't think it's where we want to be today", she told RTÉ.

"This is an all-out violation of all worldwide rules".

The former Olympic silver medallist, who was announcing maintained levels of funding for sporting national governing bodies and high performance, said that the IOC should not be involved in deciding who was eligible to compete from sanctioned countries and who wasn't.