IOC to appeal against CAS decision to lift Russian doping bans

IOC president Thomas Bach speaks during a press conference following the IOC executive board meeting. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LAUSANNE (AFP) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Thursday (May 3) that it will appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal against the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to lift doping bans on 28 Russians.

A few days before the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, CAS ruled that there was "insufficient" evidence that the athletes had benefited from a system of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

The doping scandal had led to Russia being banned by the IOC from February's Games in South Korea.

The decision by CAS to overturn the athletes' Olympic life bans was hailed by Russia as a major embarrassment for the IOC.

But IOC president Thomas Bach said on Thursday that the organisation would fight against the ruling to "protect clean athletes".

"We put ourselves into the position of athletes who have finished behind these Russian athletes. We have a CAS decision saying 'it does not mean they are innocent'," said Bach.

"This was the final reason why we took this decision (to appeal), we said that regardless of the degree of chances, the decision does not mean the athletes are innocent, we want this in the interest of the other athletes to be reviewed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal."

The decision to appeal was made after a meeting in Lausanne of the IOC executive board on Thursday.

"The chances of winning did not play a role, the only factor which led us to the decision was this protection for the clean athletes who have finished behind these Russian athletes who have not been declared innocent," added Bach.

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