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CAS ruling on Russian skiers’ suspension is major disappointment, sports minister says

February 22, 13:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Swiss-based CAS ruled on Tuesday to reject an appeal filed by the Russian cross country skiers against their provisional suspension
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MOSCOW, February 22. /TASS/. A decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to uphold provisional suspensions of five Russian cross country skiers emerged as a major disappointment ahead of the world championship, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told TASS on Wednesday.

The Swiss-based CAS ruled on Tuesday to reject an appeal filed by the Russian cross country skiers against their provisional suspension, imposed earlier by the International Ski Federation (FIS) over doping abuse allegations.

"Following yesterday’s decision to uphold provisional suspensions, our leading athletes will be unable to take part in the world championship," Kolobkov said in an interview with TASS. "This is a wrong approach and we disagree with it."

The CAS said in its statement on Tuesday that Russia’s five skiers - Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov - would remain provisionally suspended and, therefore, not be able to take part in the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, held in Finland’s Lahti between February 22 and March 5.

"We hoped that the CAS would overrule the FIS decision and the athletes would be cleared (for the championship)," the Russian sports minister said. "The eventual (court’s) decision was a major disappointment."

On December 23, the FIS slapped provisional suspensions on six Russian cross-country skiers over alleged violations of anti-doping rules at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

The athletes subjected to the provisional suspensions are four male skiers, namely Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Yevgeny Belov and Alexey Petukhov and two female skiers - Julia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova. The decision was made in the wake of the infamous McLaren Report.

According to Part Two of the report, delivered in early December 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.

On January 25, the FIS Anti-Doping Panel ruled to keep in force the provisional suspensions of Legkov and Belov. Both athletes later filed appeals with the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport disputing the FIS ruling.

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