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Russian skiers Legkov, Belov slapped with life bans, stripped of 2014 Olympic results

November 01, 18:43 UTC+3

The Russian athletes have been found guilty of doping abuse

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Alexander Legkov

Alexander Legkov

© EPA/HENDRIK SCHMIDT

MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) slapped with life bans two Russian cross-country skiers, Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov over doping abuse accusations and ruled to annul their results from the 2014 Winter Olympics, the IOC said in its statement.

"Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has published the first conclusions from the Oswald Commission hearings, which are being conducted in the context of the Sochi 2014 forensic and analytic doping investigations," the IOC official statement said. "As a result, the two Russian athletes Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov have been sanctioned."

According to the statement from the IOC, Russia’s Legkov, "is disqualified from the events in which he participated upon the occasion of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi" and will be stripped of all awards he won in "the Men's 50km Cross Country Skiing Event, in which he ranked 1st," as well as in "the Men's 4x10km Cross Country Skiing Event, in which he ranked 2nd."

The global Olympic body stated also that the whole Russian cross country skiing squad was "disqualified from the Men's 4x10km Cross Country Skiing Event" in Sochi due to Legkov’s disqualification.

"The corresponding medals, medalist pins and diplomas are withdrawn and shall be returned to the International Olympic Committee," the statement said.

In July 2016, the IOC set up two separate commissions to probe doping abuse allegations in Russian sports as well as alleged involvement of state officials in manipulations with performance enhancing drugs, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi.

The first of the two commissions is an Inquiry Commission, chaired by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid. The commission is looking into accusations set out in the McLaren report that alleges the existence of a supposed institutional conspiracy in Russia’s summer and winter sports, in which the country’s state officials were allegedly engaged in.

The second investigative body at the issue is a Disciplinary Commission, chaired by IOC Member Denis Oswald. This commission is tasked to address alleged doping uses and manipulation of samples concerning the Russian athletes, who participated in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

Christoff Wiescheman, a German lawyer for Russian cross-country skiers Legkov and Belov announced earlier in the day that he received a ruling (from the IOC), which says that the Russian athletes had been found guilty of doping abuse and stripped all of medals and results of the 2014) Games in Sochi.

Both of the cross country skiers have been banned for life from all Olympic competitions, beginning from the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, the lawyer stated adding that the athletes still had the right to take part in the competitions supervised by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

"Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov have not used prohibited substances or applied forbidden methods and have at no time submitted samples outside of arranged doping tests and have never been prompted for this purpose," Wiescheman said in his statement adding that a relevant appeal would be filed with the Swiss-based CAS before Thursday, November 2.

Elena Vyalbe, the president of the Russian Cross Country Ski Federation, told TASS commenting on the issue that the federation was shocked with the IOC decision regarding the two Russian skiers.

"I would rather abstain from making commentaries regarding the rest of the skiers at the issue," Vyalbe said in an interview with TASS. "All I can say that we have received the news, which shocked us all. We are already filing appeals with the CAS."

Last year 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 were 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, 2016 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.

Earlier this year in May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled to uphold the provisional suspensions of six Russian cross country skiers rejecting their appeals.

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