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Russia’s two cross country skiers appeal suspension ahead of FIS Tour de Ski

December 28, 2016, 20:23 UTC+3
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MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. Russian cross country skiers Alexander Legkov and Yevgeny Belov, provisionally suspended on doping abuse allegations, submitted an appeal with the International Ski Federation (FIS) against their suspensions ahead of this week’s international tournament, Norway’s NRK web portal quoted their lawyer as saying on Wednesday.

"Today I have sent a letter to FIS requesting the cancellation of the suspension before the start of the Tour de Ski tournament," Christof Wieschemann, a lawyer for the Russian skiers, was quoted as saying.

Legkov and Belov were named on Wednesday by Oleg Perevozchikov, a coach working in the Russian national team, along two other Russian male skiers (namely Maxim Vylegzhanin and Alexei Petukhov), who were subjected to provisional suspensions following a relevant statement from FIS.

Wieschemann also added that if the appeal was not satisfied with the FIS, he would turn to higher court instances.

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.

The imposed suspensions for Legkov, Vylegzhanin, Belov and Petukhov force them to skip the upcoming FIS tournament Tour de Ski, scheduled to be held between December 31 and January 8.

A statement from Legkov and Belov, circulated late on Tuesday night, said that both athletes would appeal the decision in order to take part in the FIS Tour de Ski event, which begins this Saturday.

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.

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.".

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