6-time gold medallist Viktor Ahn among 32 Russians appealing for Olympic spot
IOC says new database detailing past doping decided eligibility
By James Ellingworth, Associated Press
Six-time Olympic gold medallist Viktor Ahn and three former NHL players are among 32 Russian athletes who filed appeals Tuesday seeking spots at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The 32 athletes all failed to pass the mandatory International Olympic Committee vetting — imposed as a result of Russian doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics — and weren't invited to the Games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it would likely hear the case Wednesday in Pyeongchang. If the Russian athletes force the IOC to invite them, it would mean the medal contenders in some sports change dramatically only days before the games open on Friday.
CAS added that as well as short-track speed skating great Ahn, the 32 include world cross-country skiing champion Sergei Ustyugov and world biathlon champion Anton Shipulin.
Plenty of notables
Also on the list are former NHL players Sergei Plotnikov, Anton Belov and Valeri Nichushkin, who had been considered possible candidates for the Russian team in Pyeongchang.
If figure skater Ksenia Stolbova is invited, she could compete as soon as Friday morning in the pairs short program component of the team event.
Some of the 32 Russians are already in Far East countries like Japan so they will be acclimatized and ready to travel to Pyeongchang if invited.
John Coates, the Australian IOC member who also oversees CAS operations, said Tuesday that the 32 had also filed appeals in Swiss courts, but didn't give details.
New database determined eligibility
The IOC hasn't said why any of the individual Russians weren't invited, but did say it used a newly available database detailing past doping when it decided who should be eligible.
The World Anti-Doping Agency's athlete committee on Tuesday expressed its "profound disappointment and dismay" that 28 Russian athletes last week had doping bans from the 2014 Olympics overturned at CAS. The athletes want a "comprehensive review" of how the investigation by lawyer Richard McLaren into Russia's doping conspiracy was handled.
"We share the distress, uncertainty and frustration expressed by many athletes on the news of this ruling and believe this decision to be a massive setback for clean sport," the WADA athlete committee said. "We cannot lose sight of the extent nor the scale of the efforts that Russian authorities and athletes engaged in to cheat the anti-doping system. Thus, we call for stronger leadership from sport to protect clean athletes and their right to doping-free sport.
"It is vital that athletes, countries, teams and officials that cheat be held fully accountable and sanctioned accordingly."
Any Russians who win late invitations would compete under "Olympic Athletes from Russia" because the Russian team is formally banned for doping at the Sochi Olympics. That means they will compete under the Olympic flag and wearing uniforms without national insignia. If they win gold medals, the Olympic anthem will be played.
Late invitations could result in other Russians being cut, especially in sports such as hockey where a full roster is already registered. It's not clear how that process would work.