Abrahamson: Russian athletes denied appeal to compete in PyeongChang

The highly politicized Pyeongchang Olympics are officially opening, but not without some last-minute drama as the Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to announce whether 45 excluded Russian athletes can compete.

Forty-five Russian athletes will have to wait until Friday, the opening day of the Pyeongchang Olympics, to find out if they can compete.

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea's Pyeongchang will take place on Friday, while the global sports competition will last through February 25. The IOC didn't respond when asked if that complies with its rules.

The latest CAS decision is separate from a case last week.

"I'm having a very unusual feeling..."

To get to the Olympics, Sergeeva had to pass an International Olympic Committee vetting process, with athletes' names checked against data of possible past Russian drug use and cover-ups.

CAS said the Russian side "did not demonstrate" that the process the International Olympic Committee put into place, two special panels to vet and independently review each individual application, was "carried out in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner".

"In its decisions, the CAS arbitrators have considered that the process created by the IOC to establish an invitation list of Russian athletes to compete as Olympic athletes from Russia (OAR) could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision", CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said, reading from a statement.

Whistleblowers in sport have been warned not to go public with their information because they can not be offered protection, the World Anti-Doping Agency warned on Thursday.

For all the angst over the timing of the decision the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport issued Friday morning in denying the appeals of 47 Russian athletes and coaches to take part in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which - um, start Friday night - the decision itself was actually straightforward and, to be honest, easy. "It's hard for CAS to make decisions against the backdrop of an earlier pressure", Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told Interfax news agency, referring to objections from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC had said it wouldn't invite athletes previously banned for doping. "And begging for invitations all the time is beyond reasonable", he said.

Breaking the rules could mean the IOC scraps its plan for Russian Federation to march under its own flag at the closing ceremony on February 25 - a symbolic return to the Olympic movement after almost three months.

Stephen Hess, an worldwide sports lawyer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said the decision was a victory for the IOC.

Friday's verdict, he said, is "a small semblance of justice for clean athletes".

"We share the distress, uncertainty and frustration expressed by many athletes on the news of this ruling and believe this decision to be a massive setback for clean sport", the WADA athlete committee said.

"Sport has always been political, at all times", Belov said Wednesday at the "Going Vertical" movie premiere screening at the Russian embassy in the U.S. capital.

"Undoubtedly, everybody including the athletes think that the decision is unfair, because representatives of the Russian team have been barred from the competition without reasonable explanation".

US bobsledder Nick Cunningham said he has tried to not focus on the will-they-or-won't-they drama surrounding the Russians. "But our athletes are here to compete and they have to win". "I'll just say that we came here to defend our good name and we were fully listened to by the CAS panel", said luge coach Albert Demchenko, who was at the hearing.


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