Moscow : Russia’s Olympic Athletes Commission on Tuesday expressed “huge disappointment” over the International Olympic Committee decision not to invite to Pyeongchang 15 Russian athletes and staff whose life bans for doping were lifted.
The IOC ruled on Monday that 13 Russian athletes and two ex-athletes now working as support staff will not be invited to the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite having their life bans for doping removed last week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The IOC has barred Russia from the Pyeongchang Olympics, which open on Friday, over a widespread doping conspiracy. But 169 Russians who have passed strict anti-doping protocols will compete under a neutral flag as Olympic Athletes from Russia.
“With a huge disappointment, the members of ROC’s Athletes’ Commission have found out about decision of IOC’s Invitation Review Panel not to invite 13 Russian athletes and 2 coaches fully acquitted by (the CAS) to 2018 Winter Olympics,” the commission statement said.
“It’s surprising that IOC Commission makes its decisions on the basis of some additional, suspicious, and anonymous information and accounts of one single fraudster”, the commission said, referring to whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who is the source of revelations on Moscow’s state-sponsored doping.
The Russian athletes’ statement said that they have supported the IOC statement “that it’s necessary to respect rights of clean athletes”.
However, the commission said that the “massive denial for clean Russian athletes violates the principle of equality and contests efficiency of justice.”
“Dreams of athletes willing to participate in Olympics who have fairly won the right for it are being destroyed, and irreparable damage is being caused to basic ideals, values of Olympism,” it said.
Monday’s IOC decision was taken after a special panel “unanimously recommended that the IOC not extend an invitation” to the 15 individuals, and IOC president Thomas Bach voiced concerns about the CAS decision.
“We have some concerns about the quality of this decision,” Bach told reporters on Sunday, questioning why the court didn’t take into account the “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia”.
The 15 were among a group of 28 Russians who had been banned for life from the Olympics for doping. The others among the 28 have either retired or are unavailable for undisclosed reasons.
Meanwhile, Korean-born speed skater Victor An and 31 other Russian athletes launched a last-ditch appeal against their suspensions from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics following a widespread doping scandal.
Just three days before the start of the Games, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said it opened arbitration proceedings following an urgent request from the 32.