Pyeongchang: Fifteen Russian athletes and staff who controversially had their life bans for doping lifted last week will not be invited to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said on Monday. The decision was taken after a special panel "unanimously recommended that the IOC not extend an invitation to the Olympic Winter Games 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.
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".
The World Anti-Doping Agency has also expressed "serious concern" over the decision by CAS, which said it had insufficient evidence to leave the bans in place.
Australia's John Coates, president of the court's governing body, said the tribunal would "thoroughly examine" the concerns raised by Bach and would issue details of the decisions as soon as possible. "Athletes are entitled to have confidence in judicial processes at all levels, more particularly before the CAS," Coates said in a statement.
The IOC's Invitation Review Panel, which looked into the cases of the Russians, said it had "additional information" including data from a leaked database which showed "traces of prohibited substances (and) evidence of steroid profile manipulation".
"The panel agreed that the decision of the CAS had not lifted the suspicion of doping or given the panel sufficient confidence to recommend to the OAR IG that those 13 athletes could be considered as clean," the IOC said. It is the second successive Olympics where the IOC has been embroiled in problems involving Russian doping, after accusations of systemic drug cheating blew up just before Rio 2016. Russia topped the medals table when it hosted the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.