Doping bans overturned for 28 Russian athletes

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In the 2014 Sochi Olympics doping scandal detailed in a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, investigators discovered that Russian staff involved had developed a method to open supposedly "tamper-proof" sample bottles undetected.The doping scandal led to the International Olympic Committee banning Russia from competing at the Games as a team, although Russian athletes who meet certain criteria will be able to compete as neutrals.

The IOC a year ago banned 43 Russians for doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, ruling they had been part of a scheme to dope.

Top Russian officials welcomed Thursday a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to lift bans on 28 of its athletes saying the ruling proved a state-sponsored doping system did not exist.

It has also reinstated their results from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

A 17-month investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency found "beyond reasonable doubt" that the Russian Ministry of Sport and its Olympic preparation team had allowed state-funded doping at Sochi.

"It is indeed the other system which the International Olympic Committee relies on - it is about issuing so-called invitations for the Russian athletes to be allowed to compete", he said.

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart says the IOC waited too long before issuing bans late previous year and that "slamming dozens of cases through the process on the eve of the Olympic Games has not served justice and as such the integrity of the games has been sabotaged".

"But now I read that the International Olympic Committee regrets the decision taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport".

Plenty big enough to make the grotesque subterfuge of Sochi, the tampering with doping-control samples and covering up for Russian cheats, seem not so serious after all.

However, CAS reduced their lifetime Olympic bans.

"We've always said that but today the Court of Arbitration for Sport issued such a ruling", he said, adding that Professor Richard McLaren's "superficial" report was "not based on any real facts".

When the Russians were first accused of doping, Russian President Vladimir Putin acted like it was a vast American conspiracy against him.

According to Andy Brown, sports journalist and author at Sports Integrity Initiative, the court's ruling means that the story for the 28 Russian athletes is not over.

Among the reinstated athletes are two Olympic gold medalists, bobsledders Dmitry Trunenkov and Aleksei Negodailo; a world champion in skeleton, Aleksander Tretiakov; cross-country skiing gold medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin; and Olga Fatkulina, a world champion in speedskating. We would like to see what is said about the athletes who were not fully exonerated.

"I know 100 percent that they're not guilty of anything", she told Reuters.

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

"I share the IOC's disappointment and I agree with the stand they have taken, " Australian Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said.

Peskov said it was not clear whether the 28 Russian athletes would now be able to take part in the Winter Games set to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea next week. Doping means using a drug or other substance illegally to improve an athlete's performance. "What anti-doping rule violation do they want to slap against me?"

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