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Russian skiers seek lifting of suspension without lawyer’s help

January 17, 2017, 16:08 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Russian cross-country skiers Maxim Vylegzhanin and Alexei Petukhov told TASS they had no intentions of hiring a lawyer to overturn their provisional suspensions, imposed last month by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

On December 23, the FIS slapped provisional suspensions on six Russian cross-country skiers over alleged violations of anti-doping rules. The athletes in question are four male skiers, specifically, Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Yevgeny Belov and Alexei Petukhov and two female skiers - Yulia Ivanova and Yevgeniya Shapovalova.

"No formal charges have been pressed against us as of yet," Vylegzhanin said in an interview with TASS. "We will resort to legal assistance only if the heat is turned up on our case and we will be forced to file an appeal."

"We have already informed the international federation about our desire to hold hearings into the case via an on-line conference and submitted our written explanations as well," Vylegzhanin, who won three silver medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, said. "Should additional questions emerge on behalf of the FIS, we are ready to answer them all."

"The FIS has sent us its confirmation that all documents from us had been received and we are waiting for its decision now," added Vylegzhanin, who is also the 2015 World Champion.

Yulia Ivanova and Yevgeniya Shapovalova earlier also decided to file personal written explanations with the FIS.

Hearings into the cases of Legkov and Belov were held via an on-line conference with the FIS last Friday. Both Russian skiers were represented during the hearings by their lawyer Christof Wieschemann.

According to a statement from the FIS in late December, six Russian cross country skiers had been provisionally suspended based on accusations regarding their alleged involvement in violations of anti-doping rules at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The decision was made in the wake of the infamous McLaren Report.

According to Part Two of the report, delivered early last month in London by the WADA Independent Commission and its chairman, Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, more than 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter and Paralympic sports could have been involved in an alleged manipulation scheme to conceal positive doping tests.

Part Two of McLaren’s 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 publicizing 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 in late December that the organization would 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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