Saturday, 24 February, 2018

Russians in last-gasp bid for Olympic spot

ESSA and IOC to safeguard the integrity of the Winter Games ESSA, IOC to safeguard integrity at Pyeongchang 2018
Ben Pena | 07 February, 2018, 19:20

Thirteen Russian athletes and two coaches banned for life for doping and then controversially cleared of wrongdoing may be headed to the Pyeongchang Olympics after all, the International Olympic Committee said on Saturday.

Games sponsor Samsung Electronics has donated 4,000 "Olympic edition" handsets of its flagship Galaxy Note 8 device to be distributed among athletes and IOC officials free of charge.

Among them are multiple Olympic champion speed skater Viktor Ahn and biathlon gold medallist Anton Shipulin.

The IOC will hope to shift the focus to good news as North Korean and South Korean athletes compete alongside each other under a symbolic deal aimed at easing tension on the Korean peninsula.

"We very much regret it".

The North, however, has agreed with South Korea to send 22 athletes and a 230-strong cheering squad to the Winter Games starting on Friday.

Bach added that the International Olympic Committee would be freezing all contacts with the sport's governing AIBA "excluding the ones on a working level necessary to implement the respective International Olympic Committee decisions".

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Separately 28 Russians have had Olympic life bans in connection with doping practices overturned by CAS.

After the CAS decision, Russia's Olympic Committee requested that 13 active athletes and two who had become coaches should be allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Games but the IOC has refused to extend invitations to them.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said the first hearing started Wednesday but had been adjourned to Thursday, resuming at noon, "in order to hear also the second case".

Bach, speaking in Pyeongchang ahead of the Winter Olympics, read a statement featuring seven decisions, the last of which warned boxing could be omitted from the Olympics if AIBA's governance did not improve. The IOC reserved the right to the final word in regard to Russian athletes, who will go to PyeongChang under the neutral status.

The OAR ladies' ice hockey group will play in Group An at the February 9-25 Games close by Canada, Finland and the United States.

The petition follows the IOC's Monday for 15 Russian athletes and coaches "cleared of doping" to attend the Pyeongchang Games.The 13 athletes and two coaches were among 28 Russians whose lifetime by the Swiss-based CAS on February 1.

"They want to consolidate the two cases", Reeb said.

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