PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – The International Olympic Committee’s invitation review panel declined on Monday a request to invite 15 Russian athletes in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The 15 Russians, who include 13 active athletes and two coaches, were suspended by the IOC for violation of the rules prohibiting the use of performance-enhancing substances, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted the suspension on Feb. 1.
“Following the detailed analysis conducted by the panel, its members observed that there were additional elements and/or evidence, which could not be considered by the IOC Oswald Commission because it was not available to it, that raised suspicion about the integrity of these athletes,” the panel explained in a statement.
The Oswald Commission, headed by IOC member Denis Oswald, is in charge of investigating the alleged doping violations made by Russian athletes at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
That additional information to which the panel referred included “traces of prohibited substances, evidence of steroid profile manipulation and further confidential information” given by the World Anti-Doping Agency to the panel, according to the IOC statement.
As for the two coaches, the panel chaired by the former French sports minister, Valerie Fourneyron, did not consider them worthy of an invitation to attend the Olympic Winter Games, given the evidence provided by the reports of Oswald Commission and further information available to the panel.
For its part, Russia lamented on Monday the panel’s decision not to invite the Russian athletes to PyeongChang.
“We regret this decision of the IOC,” said the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
“We believe that the CAS ruling should clear our athletes of absolutely all suspicions,” he added.
On Feb. 1, CAS overturned the doping ban on 28 Russian athletes after it found insufficient evidence that they violated the doping rules at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Russia, which was excluded as a national team from the PyeongChang Games due to the doping cases, immediately demanded that 15 of the cleared athletes to be invited to compete in South Korea under the Olympic flag, but this request has now been rejected.
The Olympic Winter Games are to be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, between Feb. 9-25.