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The Latest: Putin pleased with ruling on Russian doping

February 1, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Russian doping (all times local):

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6:50 p.m.

Vladimir Putin says he is pleased with the legal ruling that lifted the Olympic doping bans for 28 Russian athletes.

In comments reported by state news agency RIA Novosti, the Russian president says the ruling “can’t fail to please us” and that it “confirms our position that the overwhelming majority of our athletes are clean athletes.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld bans for 11 other Russian athletes deemed to have doped at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but it reduced their lifetime bans to a ban from the upcoming Pyeongchang Games.

Putin called for respect for the IOC, saying that for this reason “there should not be any euphoria from our side and we need to be calm about this.”

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6:05 p.m.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has criticized the International Olympic Committee for its approach to the doping cases against Russian athletes that were overturned on appeal.

Besides criticizing “Russia’s unprecedented attack on fair play,” USADA chief executive Travis Tygart says in a statement the IOC waited too long before issuing bans late last year and that “slamming dozens of cases through the process on the eve of the Olympic Games has not served justice and as such the integrity of the games has been sabotaged.”

Tygart adds that “the whole mess truly stinks and the nightmare continues for clean athletes. This must change.”

USADA has long called for the IOC to take a tougher line on Russian doping. The agency called for the IOC to ban the entire Russian team from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the upcoming Pyeongchang Games.

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3:50 p.m.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov says he hopes Russian athletes can use the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to invite them to the Pyeongchang Games.

The IOC has invited 169 Russians to compete in Pyeongchang as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under a neutral flag as punishment for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The IOC said it won’t back down after 28 Russians overturned bans on appeal Thursday. Another 11 remained disqualified.

Kolobkov says “the criteria for not allowing in our athletes ... were based on criteria which partly intersect with the conclusions” challenged in the appeal cases, “so this raises a lot of legal questions.”

He adds that athletes for those not invited to Pyeongchang will study the verdicts before they “take further legal steps.”

The IOC has pointed to a CAS statement that it did not rule the 28 reinstated Russians to be innocent, only that the evidence was insufficient for a disqualification from the Sochi Games and future Olympics.

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2:15 p.m.

The head coach of the Swedish ski team says the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the disqualifications of 28 Russians who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was “very messy.”

Rikard Grip told Sweden’s tabloid Expressen the ruling was “very surprising (and) the process long and strange.”

Two Swedish cross-country skiers, Emil Jonsson and Teodor Peterson, had moved up on the podium after some Russians were banned from the team sprint.

Peterson told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that “it does not matter if we are back as bronze medalists.”

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1:30 p.m.

U.S. skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender says she is “heartbroken” by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to overturn the disqualifications of 28 Russians who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Uhlaender finished fourth in Sochi, one spot behind Elena Nikitina of Russia. Nikitina had been one of the athletes who had her results from Sochi stripped, which would have meant Uhlaender would be in line to move up to bronze and claim her first Olympic medal.

Nikitina is one of the 28 who had bans overturned and results reinstated by CAS. It’s still unclear if Nikitina will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang.

Uhlaender says what will happen next is bigger than a medal. She says “the integrity of sport is on the line, and I’m looking to the leaders of a movement to do something to save it.”

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1:25 p.m.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko says the country plans to file more legal action to ensure athletes who won their doping appeals can compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Speaking at a televised cabinet meeting, Mutko says “the athletes have been given back their good names. We never had any doubt in them.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned bans on 28 Russians, citing insufficient evidence. Eleven more remain disqualified from the 2014 Sochi Games but had their lifetime Olympic bans cut to a ban only from the Pyeongchang Games.

Mutko called on the IOC to allow them to enter, saying “we assume that those athletes who are ready, who have qualified, who have quotas in their sport, will all be entered for the Olympics,” and that “if the IOC does not accept them, then we will support them in cases which could be filed at CAS and other legal instances.”

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1:20 p.m.

Russian skeleton competitor Elena Nikitina says she wants to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned her doping ban.

Nikitina tells The Associated Press “we were hoping for justice and it has prevailed,” adding “now everything has returned to normal and I hope we can compete at the Olympic Games.”

The International Olympic Committee has been ordered to reinstate Nikitina as a bronze medalist from the 2014 Sochi Games. Had she remained banned, the medal was due to pass to American slider Katie Uhlaender.

However, the IOC is resisting calls to allow Nikitina and the other Russians entry to the Pyeongchang Olympics, which start next week.

Nikitina says “now I’m going to train in a different mood today, because ... you would think, what should I be preparing for, the Russian national championships which is two months away, or the Olympic Games? Now we have the purpose to train for the Olympic Games.”

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12:45 p.m.

The IOC says it will not necessarily invite the 28 Russian athletes who won their Sochi Olympic doping case appeals to compete at the Pyeongchang Games.

The International Olympic Committee says “not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation” to the games, which open in South Korea next week.

The statement was issued soon after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the disqualifications and Olympic life bans of 28 Russians from the 2014 Sochi Games.

The IOC notes that CAS said the urgent ruling “does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent.”

A further 11 Russians lost their appeals, which the IOC says “clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation” of the Sochi anti-doping system.

The IOC says it could challenge the CAS rulings at Switzerland’s supreme court.

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12:30 p.m.

Twenty-eight Russian athletes have had their Olympic doping bans overturned, throwing the International Olympic Committee’s policy on the country into turmoil.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling was set to reinstate seven Russian medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including gold in men’s skeleton and men’s 50-kilometer cross-country skiing.

Eleven more Russians were ruled to have been guilty of doping but had lifetime bans imposed by an IOC disciplinary panel two months ago cut to a ban only from the Pyeongchang Games, which open next week.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb says “this does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent, but in their case, due to insufficient evidence, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled and their individual results achieved in Sochi are reinstated.”

The IOC says it has taken note of the CAS decision “with satisfaction on the one hand and disappointment on the other,” adding the decision “may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping.”

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