IOC reject ROC request to invite more athletes and coaches to Pyeongchang Games

The flags of Russia and the Olympic movement fly alongside each other at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
The flags of Russia and the Olympic movement fly alongside each other at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has rejected a request from the Russian Olympic Committee to invite 13 athletes and two coaches to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

The ROC is currently suspended by the IOC following systemic doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but athletes can compete in South Korea as Olympic Athletes from Russia, under the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem played.

However, the IOC on Monday announced its invitation review panel had decided not to invite the athletes and coaches who were the subject of the ROC’s request.

The IOC statement read: “The panel highlighted that its role, according to the IOC executive board decision of December 5, 2017, was not to establish ADRVs (anti-doping rule violations), but to confirm that athletes can be considered clean for a potential OAR invitation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

“Therefore, the panel unanimously recommended that the IOC not extend an invitation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 to the 15 individuals requested by the suspended ROC.”

Speaking in Pyeongchang on Monday, IOC president Thomas Bach said: “The panel once again did great work going through the cases anonymously. This means they did not know which information belonged to which athlete.

“They only had a number and access to all the different sources of information, and this makes the decisions of this panel and the implementation group so valuable because they are working scrupulously and in an equal and very fair way for all the athletes.”

The IOC plans to appeal after CAS, sport’s highest court, ruled last Thursday there was “insufficient evidence” to uphold the suspensions issued by the IOC following an investigation into state-sponsored doping in Sochi.

In a further 11 cases anti-doping violations were confirmed, but their lifetime bans have been reduced just to cover the 2018 Winter Games, which open in Pyeongchang on Friday.

The IOC, which banned Russia on December 5, must wait for a reasoned decision from CAS before an appeal can be launched. CAS has told the IOC this will not be available until the end of February, Bach said in Pyeongchang on Sunday.

Bach insisted invitations to the Russians in question were not inevitable despite the “disappointing and surprising” CAS rulings.

The German said on Sunday: “The absence of a sanction by CAS does not mean that you’re entitled to receive an invitation from the IOC.

“Receiving this invitation is a privilege for a clean Russian athlete.”

The IOC said additional elements or evidence “raised suspicion about the integrity of these athletes”.

“In addition, the panel agreed that the decision of the CAS had not lifted the suspicion of doping or given the panel sufficient confidence to recommend to the OAR IG (Olympic Athletes from Russia implementation group) that those 13 athletes could be considered as clean,” the IOC statement added.

The same decision was made with regards to the two coaches. None of the athletes or coaches were named by the IOC.

Meanwhile, CAS has acknowledged the need for the full verdict on the cases involving the Russians to be published “as soon as possible”.

Bach on Sunday criticised CAS for the delay over the delivery of the reasoned decision.

CAS president John Coates responded on Monday.

Coates said in a statement: “CAS has heard the comments of IOC President, Thomas Bach and acknowledges the concerns raised which CAS will thoroughly examine.

“The reasoned decisions in high profile cases are critically important. The panels in the cases of the 39 Russian athletes are working on them, and we look forward to their publication as soon as possible.

“CAS will continue to evolve to ensure consistency and quality of jurisprudence.”

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