February 20, 2018

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Russian athletes in limbo as CAS adjourns latest appeals

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of - Two groups of Russian athletes seeking late entry for the Pyeongchang Olympics had their appeals adjourned Wednesday, leaving decisions on their participation to the eve of the opening ceremony at the earliest.

A group of 32 Russians who were denied invitations to the Olympics because of evidence linking them to past doping had their case heard Wednesday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport but no decision was made.

A second group of 15 lodged an application Wednesday seeking to force the International Olympic Committee to invite them to the games. They were all banned last year for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but those verdicts were overturned last week by CAS, sports' highest court. The 13 athletes and two coaches in that group included cross-country skiing gold medallist Alexander Legkov and skeleton gold medallist Alexander Tretiakov.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said the first hearing started Wednesday but had been adjourned to Thursday, resuming at noon, "in order to hear also the second case."

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International Olympic Committee member and Court of Arbitration for Sport president John Coates walks off stage after delivering a report on recent activities by CAS during the 132nd IOC Session prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

International Olympic Committee member and Court of Arbitration for Sport president John Coates walks off stage after delivering a report on recent activities by CAS during the 132nd IOC Session prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of - Two groups of Russian athletes seeking late entry for the Pyeongchang Olympics had their appeals adjourned Wednesday, leaving decisions on their participation to the eve of the opening ceremony at the earliest.

A group of 32 Russians who were denied invitations to the Olympics because of evidence linking them to past doping had their case heard Wednesday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport but no decision was made.

A second group of 15 lodged an application Wednesday seeking to force the International Olympic Committee to invite them to the games. They were all banned last year for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but those verdicts were overturned last week by CAS, sports' highest court. The 13 athletes and two coaches in that group included cross-country skiing gold medallist Alexander Legkov and skeleton gold medallist Alexander Tretiakov.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said the first hearing started Wednesday but had been adjourned to Thursday, resuming at noon, "in order to hear also the second case."

"Possibly a final decision can be rendered at the end of the day tomorrow," Reeb said. "If we need more time, perhaps it will be Friday morning."

The Olympic opening ceremony is set for Friday, and the participation of the Russian athletes continues to be a distraction.

The group of 32 athletes failed to pass mandatory IOC vetting, imposed as a result of Russian doping at the 2014 Games.

The IOC expects 168 Russian athletes to compete under the neutral banner of "Olympic Athletes from Russia." Many more have been barred.

If the CAS ad hoc division in Pyeongchang rules in favour of the Russian athletes, Reeb said he was confident the matter of their participation would end there.

"If their appeals are upheld, their participation will be granted," Reeb said, "and it will be the end, I think."

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