Olympics: Medvedev slams 'unfair and unlawful' IOC verdict

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attends a service on Orthodox Christmas at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, Russia on Jan 7, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday (Feb 5) blasted the International Olympic Committee's decision not to invite 15 Russian athletes and staff who had their life bans for doping lifted for the Pyeongchang Games.

"The IOC Commission has taken a shameful decision. This decision is unfair, unlawful, amoral and politically charged," Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page.

"The court has taken a decision in this case. After that, its decision has been overturned by a group of people who have placed themselves above the court, the IOC, the athletes and fans."

He added: "This decision has little in common with sports. Its goal is to do political damage to Russia."

"And now politics has defeated the rules of law and decency."

Earlier on Monday, the IOC ruled that 15 Russian athletes and staff who controversially had their life bans for doping lifted last week will not be invited to Pyeongchang.

The decision was taken after a special panel "unanimously recommended that the IOC not extend an invitation to the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang 2018 to the 15 individuals", a statement said.

"The OAR IG (Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group) confirmed that no additional invitations will be extended to these 15 individuals," the IOC said.

The 15 were among a group of 28 Russians who had been banned for life from the Olympics for doping, but whose suspensions were overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday.

They included 13 athletes and two ex-athletes now working as support staff. The other members of the 28 have either retired or are unavailable for undisclosed reasons.

The IOC has barred Russia from the Pyeongchang Olympics, which open on Friday (Feb 9), over a widespread doping conspiracy. But 169 Russians who have passed strict anti-doping protocols will compete under a neutral flag.

The IOC announcement comes after the body's president, Thomas Bach, slammed the CAS decision as "extremely disappointing and surprising" and called for reforms to the independent sports tribunal.

"We have some concerns about the quality of this decision," Bach told reporters on Sunday, questioning why the court didn't take into into account the "systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia".

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.