The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday lifted life bans on 28 of the 43 Russian athletes convicted of doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
This has far reaching consequences for the Olympics as the Russian athletes could now compete at this month’s Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.
CAS held that there was “insufficient” evidence that the athletes had benefited from a system of state-sponsored doping at the last Winter Games, hosted by Russia.
“In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes concerned,” the judgment read.
“The evidence put forward by the IOC in relation to this matter did not have the same weight in each individual case.”
Expectedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin was delighted with the development, saying he was “very glad” with the turn of events.
The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from competing at Pyeongchang as a team over the doping scandal, although 169 Russian competitors have been cleared to take part as neutrals.
Forty-two Russians — bobsleighers, cross-country skiers, competitors in the skeleton and ice hockey players — appealed against the bans at CAS.
Furthermore, CAS lifted the life bans of another 11 Russians but barred them from competing at the Pyeongchang Olympics due to begin on February 9.
Among those whose life bans were scrapped is Alexander Legkov, 34, who won gold in Sochi in the 50-kilometre freestyle cross-country skiing event and silver in the 4x10km relay, only to have his results annulled over the doping allegations.