Russian athletes ‘overwhelmed with joy’ by CAS ruling to uphold Olympic appeals

Russian athletes ‘overwhelmed with joy’ by CAS ruling to uphold Olympic appeals
Russian Olympic team members who have been cleared of doping charges by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are “overwhelmed with joy” by the news, which they called “the most positive” from the last few days.

On Thursday, the CAS upheld the appeals of 28 Russian athletes and lifted their lifetime Olympic bans handed out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for alleged doping violations.

Over the last two months, acting on the recommendations of the Oswald Commission, which was tasked with investigating separate cases of alleged doping violations in Russia, the IOC sanctioned 44 members of the Russian national squad, including voiding their results at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The CAS considered the evidence presented by the Oswald Commission “insufficient” to prove alleged doping violations committed by the Russian athletes and reinstated the medals and results from Sochi.

It also partially upheld the appeals of another 11 Russian athletes, whose lifetime Olympic bans were replaced with “ineligibility” only from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics. Alexander Legkov, the first skier to be sanctioned by the IOC, said it had been “stressful” living with the pressure the case had brought.

“I’m really happy about the CAS decision; this is the best news over the past two years. I can’t say right now what actions will be taken next,” Legkov told RT. “I have been living under stressful conditions for a year and a month, and finally good news has come. I really need time to digest what has happened.”

The men’s 50km gold medal Legkov won in Sochi has been reinstated by CAS along with his team silver taken in the men’s relay race. One more Russian skier, 2010 Olympic champion Nikita Kriukov, said the decision was “the most positive news” he had received in recent days.

“I received the news today after finishing my training session. When I entered our dressing room, I saw my telephone ringing, as everybody wanted to congratulate me on the CAS decision,” Kriukov exclusively told RT.

READ MORE: Russia back to 1st in overall Sochi Olympics medal count after CAS ruling

“You know, this is the best news to receive after training and generally the most positive news from the last few days! I need to contact the team’s management and my coach to decide what to do next, as now all bans that were imposed on me have been lifted. So we will decide with my coach what steps to take now.”

The IOC’s decision to ban Kriukov was one of the most controversial, as no scratches were found on his doping kits and no salt was discovered in his probes. Nevertheless, Kriukov, who was not mentioned in the McLaren report and has never tested positive for banned drugs, was included in the list of banned athletes.

Another Russian team member cleared by CAS was skeleton racer Olga Potylitsina, who told RT that she was “overwhelmed with joy” at the ruling.

“I received numerous messages and calls today as if it was my birthday. I’m really overwhelmed with joy,” Potylitsina said. “I continuously refreshed the CAS website page today to find out what decision they had made regarding our cases. Straight away I contacted my teammates who have also been cleared by CAS and we congratulated each other on the news.”

READ MORE: IOC ‘regrets’ Russian athletes’ Olympic appeal success

“We were allowed to represent ourselves at the CAS hearings, where we addressed the court. It was in stark contrast to the Oswald Commission hearings, when we were just accused [of doping violations]. Here [in CAS] we were asked questions, and were engaged in a dialogue with the judges. Fortunately our words were heard by the court,” she added.

It remains unclear, however, whether those cleared by CAS will be approved for next week’s Olympics, as the IOC stated athletes can participate in PyeongChang only by IOC invitation and that the CAS decision does not necessarily mean the 28 athletes will be invited.