MOSCOW, December 27. TASS/. Russian cross country skiers Alexander Legkov and Yevgeny Belov, who were provisionally suspended on doping abuse allegations, will appeal against their suspensions in order to take part in this week’s international competition Tour de Ski, according to their joint statement issued on Tuesday.
Oleg Perevozchikov, a coach of the Russian national ski team, told TASS earlier in the day that four Russian cross-country skiers had been temporarily suspended from competitions on suspicion of anti-doping rules violation. The skiers at the issue are Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Yevgeny Belov and Alexei Petukhov.
According to the statement, "interests of Alexander Legkov and Yevgeny Belov will be represented," by a lawyer from Germany, "who intends to seek the cancellation of the provisional suspension of the athletes before the start of the FIS Tour de Ski," scheduled to be held between December 31 and January 8.
The statement also said that both of the cross country skiers were subjected to provisional suspensions after it was discovered that their doping samples, collected at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, had been tampered with. However, there was no direct indication that the athletes were taking banned performance enhancing drugs.
Last Friday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced that six Russian cross country skiers had been provisionally suspended based on accusation of their alleged doping abuse during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. No names were provided in the statement from FIS.
Following the statement, sports web portal Championat .com reported that the mentioned six skiers were Legkov, Vylegzhanin, Belov, Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Yevgeniya Shapovalova.
Perevozchikov also told TASS earlier in the day that all four skiers continued practicing before the start of the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, scheduled to be held in Finland’s Lahti between February 22 and March 5.
"The guys are most likely to miss the Tour de Ski, but still have the chance of taking part in the world championship," he said. "This is why that despite everything they continue practicing since we talk here about the (provisional) suspension and not the ban."
"However, there is no information as of yet, when the investigation would be over," Perevozchikov added.
According to the Part 2 report, delivered over two weeks ago in London by the WADA Independent Commission and its chairman, Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, over 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter and Paralympic sports could have been involved in the manipulations system to conceal positive doping tests.
McLaren’s Part Two report claimed in particular that doping samples of 12 Russian medalists of 2014 Winter Games in Sochi had been tampered with. In addition, doping tests of two more Russian athletes, who won four gold medals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics had been falsified as well.
The report did not mention particular names and McLaren later said that the decision against making public the names of athletes, who are allegedly guilty of doping abuse, was made in respect to their private life, and, moreover, it should be done by international sports federations and not him personally.
Commenting on the decision to suspend six Russian cross-country-skiers, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper said last week: "We will work together with the Russian Ski Association to rehabilitate the Russian cross-country skiing community and we sincerely count on their commitment to clean sport.".