CAS set to announce ruling on 45 Russian athletes ahead of Winter Olympics opening ceremony

Alexander Legkov, a cross-country skiing gold medalist, is just one of the 45 waiting to hear whether they can complete in Pyeongchang
Updated 09 February 2018
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CAS set to announce ruling on 45 Russian athletes ahead of Winter Olympics opening ceremony

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea: Forty-five Russian athletes will have to wait until Friday, the opening day of the Pyeongchang Olympics, to find out if they can compete.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport heard the case of the 45 Russian athletes — including numerous medal contenders — and two coaches on Thursday. It will announce its ruling on Friday, nine hours before the opening ceremony.
Six other Russian athletes’ appeals were thrown out. CAS said it “lacked jurisdiction” to hear the cases.
Those six cases had been filed separately with applications by seven members of Russian support staff. CAS said its arbiters reviewed written submissions and “determined that the CAS ad hoc division lacked jurisdiction to deal with any of the two applications.”
The six athletes include two world champion speedskaters, Denis Yuskov and Pavel Kulizhnikov, plus athletes from biathlon and ski jumping.
All six were originally refused invitations to compete by the IOC. Unlike those in the group of 45, all six have previously served bans of various lengths for failed doping tests. The IOC had said it wouldn’t invite athletes previously banned for doping.
The first competitions of the games, including a US-Russia curling match, had already started when CAS heard the cases at a luxury resort in the mountains near Pyeongchang.
“We are hopeful that the panel will follow our argumentation and respect the rights of the athletes,” said Philippe Baertsch, a lawyer for the group of 45 Russians who are still awaiting their verdict. In attendance with Baertsch for that hearing were Elena Nikitina, the 2014 bronze medalist in women’s skeleton, and Tatiana Ivanova, a luger who won silver in the team event in 2014.
Leaving the hearing, Nikitina said the three arbiters — from Canada, Switzerland and Australia — “were pleasant and we were listened to.”
“We can’t comment on what just happened at the panel. I’ll just say that we came here to defend our good name and we were fully listened to by the CAS panel,” said luge coach Albert Demchenko, who was at the hearing. “All our documents and words were heard.”
The Russians are seeking to overturn the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to invite them to the games. If they win, it would force the IOC to accept athletes it considers to be linked to doping offenses.
The Russian team is formally banned, so they would have to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag. With 168 IOC-approved athletes, it is already one of the biggest teams in Pyeongchang.
The IOC won’t comment on individual cases, but says its invitation process was based on evidence from a newly obtained Moscow laboratory database detailing doping in previous years.
Other athletes whose cases will be heard include Viktor Ahn, a six-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track speedskating, and Alexander Legkov, a cross-country skiing gold medalist.
Sergei Parkhomenko, the general secretary of the Russian Bobsled Federation, said athletes from his team were training in Siberia, ready to fly to South Korea at a moment’s notice if CAS gives them the green light.
“We’re hoping for a fair and logical decision from the court,” he said. “If there’s a positive ruling, they’ll fly in.”
Russian officials and athletes have indicated that not all of those who have filed appeals plan to compete if they win. Some are reportedly no longer in training, while others may not be included on full rosters in sports like hockey.


US SPEEDSKATER IN 'COIN TOSS' STORM

A tweet posted by the account of speedskater Shani Davis has blasted the use of a coin toss to select the US flagbearer for the opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Games. Davis and luge athlete Erin Hamlin each got four votes in the athlete-led process. Each of the eight US winter sports federations got to nominate one athlete and have another serve as a voter. The US Olympic Committee said it was predetermined that a coin toss would be used in the case of a tie and if the athletes could not find a way to choose a clear winner. The tweet said the selection was made “dishonorably,” and included a reference to Black History Month. Davis is black, Hamlin is white. Davis’ account is verified, but it was unknown if he sent the tweet or if someone with access to his account did.


Bahrain court acquits opposition leaders in Qatar spy case

Updated 13 min 5 sec ago
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Bahrain court acquits opposition leaders in Qatar spy case

  • Public prosecution will appeal the verdict, says public prosecutor Osama Al-Oufi
  • The court did not properly assess the evidence, he says

JEDDAH: A Bahraini court on Thursday acquitted three members of an opposition group of spying for Qatar.
In November, public prosecutor Osama Al-Oufi accused Al-Wefaq’s Ali Salman and Hassan Sultan of conspiring with Qatari officials to carry out “hostile acts” in Bahrain.
The High Criminal Court acquitted them along with a third Al-Wefaq member, Ali Al-Aswad, said Al-Oufi, the state Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.
The public prosecution had submitted strong and varied evidence, including communication records between the defendants and Qatari officials, which proved beyond any doubt intelligence links between them with the purpose of inciting the violence that struck Bahrain in 2011, Al-Oufi added.
The conspirators also worked to undermine national efforts to control and eliminate subversive acts of violence, he said.
Witness testimonies supported the material evidence presented by the public prosecution, he added.
In deciding to acquit the defendants, the court did not properly assess the evidence, Al-Oufi said, adding that the public prosecution will appeal the verdict.
Bahraini law allows the prosecution and defendants to appeal a ruling at the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation.