Winter Olympics: Arbitration Court dismisses 47 appeals from Russian athletes, coaches

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Laszlo Balogh Reuters

At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday, many viewers were puzzled when a group of plainly dressed athletes in drab gray coats and blue jeans competing for the country "OAR" marched in.

CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb, reading from a statement and declining to take questions, said the International Olympic Committee process "could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision".

Elistratov said he had suffered from the uncertainty surrounding the status of Russian athletes ahead of the Games.

"There was no finding that it was carried out in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner", he said. "The Panel also concluded that there was no evidence the (commissions) improperly exercised their discretion". They included Elena Nikitina, who would have been a leading rival in the skeleton to Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas. "After Olympic officials finish working through the corrected results, they will award medals to 'retroactive winners from Sochi'".

However, the CAS decision may not be the end of the matter.

Just two months ago, the International Olympic Committee barred Russian Federation from competing in this year's Winter Olympics. "The message coming back from our athletes about the facilities is that they are second to none", he added. "So we put together a case before CAS, and we're delighted with the outcome".

Vachuda was showing his support for the Russian athletes, who he felt were being unfairly treated by the IOC.

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Which is how we ended up with OARs: Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation.

While the shirtless flag-bearer for the island nation of Tonga may have set many tongues wagging, plenty of attention was focused on Russia's competitors.

OAR isn't a new country - though it sure looked like it during the Opening Ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Once that is out of the way, Russian Federation will be welcomed back into the Olympic movement with open arms. All but one of the 169 Russians invited to the Games by the International Olympic Committee accepted the invitation. Dozens more filed appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Fifteen other athletes and coaches who recently had their sanctions overturned by CAS also appealed.

The IOC is considering an appeal against that decision.

The drawn-out decision and lingering uncertainty have drawn scrutiny to almost every stakeholder involved in the process. Investigations revealed an elaborate ploy where tainted Russian urine samples were switched with clean ones overnight using a "mousehole" in the wall of the Sochi anti-doping laboratory.

"Every effort has been made to provide a proper playing field for the athletes", WADA President Craig Reedie said. It's just one step closer to a clean sport. If you're not a clean athlete then you should not compete. Only three Olympic teams are bigger than the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation group - the United States (241), Canada (226) and Switzerland (169).

Russia, playing in front of a partisan crowd at the 2014 Sochi Games, gave up three unanswered goals to Finland after having scored first in the quarter-final, ending their tournament.

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