CAS overturns doping bans on 28 Russian athletes

Russian fans to sing national anthem in South Korea despite prohibitions

"With respect to these 28 athletes, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled, and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 are reinstated", a CAS statement said.

Thirty-two North Koreans, including ten athletes will come to South Korea via air on Thursday to prepare for and compete in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

CAS said it found "insufficient" evidence that 28 of the athletes had broken anti-doping rules at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In a further 11 cases, CAS ruled that doping violations had been committed but that lifetime bans were not justified and the punishments were cut to a ban for the 2018 Games alone. The IOC decisions in these matters are confirmed, with one exception: "the athletes are declared ineligible for the next edition of the Olympic Winter Games instead of a life ban from all Olympic Games". The IOC still has to approve the decision regarding the medals.

Russia are banned from Pyeongchang over the doping scandal but 169 Russian competitors have been cleared to take part as neutrals.

"Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation" to the 2018 Games in South Korea, the International Olympic Committee explained in a statement.

Expectedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin was delighted with the development, saying he was "very glad" with the turn of events.

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any state involvement in state-sponsored doping.

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North Korean flags also flew during the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, which was the last time North Korea sent a big delegation to a sporting event across the border. The Olympic Committee stated that the court ignored "the proven existence of systemic manipulation" of the anti-doping system, which may have a serious impact on the fight against doping, adding that they may appeal the decision.

Among the athletes who have not received an invitation to the Olympics were biathlonist Anton Shipulin, short tracker Victor An, skier Sergei Ustyugov and other leaders of the Russian national team in different sports.

"It is a hard question", the Kremlin spokesman added, noting Russian officials would continue talking to the International Olympic Committee.

Aleksandr Zubkov, the double Olympic bobsled champion and Russian flag bearer in Sochi, is among the 11 whose doping bans were upheld.

The Russian government vehemently denies ever supporting doping.

Also appearing via video were their two chief accusers, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, who fled to the United States in 2015 and has become the main whistleblower in the Russian doping scandal, and Professor Richard McLaren, the legal expert who examined Rodchenkov's claims on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"The CAS decisions today prove that many of those who have been accused are in fact clean athletes", he added.

They were accompanied by South Korean non-Olympic skiers who, earlier in the day, practiced and participated in friendly competitions with North Korean skiers at the North's Masik ski resort at the end of a two-day visit. If they win, the Olympic anthem will be played.

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