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Seven Russian Bobsled, Skeleton Athletes Allowed To Compete In World Cup


Skeleton racer Ylena Nikitina of Russia celebrates at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Seven Russian bobsled and skeleton athletes have been cleared to keep racing in World Cup events after being banned for life from the Olympics over doping violations.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on January 4 cleared all seven athletes, including Aleksandr Tretyakov, who was the Olympic skeleton champion at the 2014 Sochi Olympics hosted by Russia. He has since been disqualified and stripped of his medal by the International Olympic Committee.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation had asked CAS for urgent provisional bans on the Russian racers after its own doping tribunal last month refused to suspend them despite the bans imposed by the Olympics committee.

But the court said it had no clear jurisdiction in the case under the statutes that govern the federation's racers. In declining to take the case, the court said it did not address the merits of alleged doping violations by the athletes.

The court's determination means that Tretyakov and Sochi women's skeleton bronze-medalist Yelena Nikitina can start in World Cup races in Germany on January 5.

An Olympics disciplinary panel has stripped 43 Russians of their Sochi results in recent weeks, and banned them from all future Olympics, allegedly for benefiting from a state-backed doping program.

All 43 are expected to appeal their convictions before the arbitration court. Some are seeking urgent verdicts that could let them race at the Winter Olympics scheduled from February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The Olympics panel said it verified evidence about widespread doping in Russia provided by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the doping test laboratories in Moscow and Sochi.

Still, the skeleton federation's doping tribunal declined to bar the convicted Russians from non-Olympic events, citing a possible breach of international law because Rodchenkov had not been cross-examined. He is a protected witness in the United States.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa
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