PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) – IOC President Thomas Bach has strongly criticized the midweek ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that lifted Olympic doping bans for 28 Russian athletes, calling it “extremely disappointing and surprising.”
“The IOC, we would never have expected this,” Bach said Sunday in Pyeongchang, where the Winter Olympics start Friday. “We feel that this decision shows the urgent need for reforms in the internal structure of CAS.”
The CAS ruling on Thursday overturned doping bans on 28 Russians, citing insufficient evidence. Russia said it wanted to send 15 of the 28 to Pyeongchang, including gold medal-winning skeleton slider Alexander Tretiakov and cross-country skiing gold medalist Alexander Legkov. Some others, particularly Russia’s top bobsledders from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, have already retired.
Bach said an independent panel, chaired by former French sports minister Valerie Fourneyron, would review and make a recommendation on Russian doping cases. He hopes a final decision will be made “in the next couple of days.”
The IOC has invited 169 Russians to compete in Pyeongchang as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under a neutral flag, but IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Saturday that his organization reserves the right to review and appeal the CAS decision.