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REFILE 4TH LEAD CAS says IOC can't ban Russian athletes from Rio over past doping By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Thursday that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cannot ban Russian rowers Anastasia Karabelshikova and Ivan Podshivalov, and swimmer Yulia Efimova, from the Rio Olympics over past doping offences.

The CAS asked the rowing federation FISA to reconsider the cases of Karabelshikova and Podshivalov in a decision which could open the door for other Russians such as whistleblower Yulia Stepanova to force a late entry in the Games which open on Friday.

Efimova‘s case is also expected to go back to the swim body FINA.

The decision is similar to one from 2011 in an athletics case involving American LaShawn Merritt, in which the CAS stopped the athletics body IAAF and the IOC from barring him from the London 2012 Games under the so-called Osaka rule which denied athletes with a doping offence of more than six months from the next Olympics.

Karabelshikova and Podshivalov were each banned for two years in 2008, Efimova for 16 months in 2014.

The news came just before the IOC announced 271 Russians eligible for Rio - from an original list of 389 - in what they believed was the conclusion of their own review.

Dealing with allegations of widespread and state-controlled doping in Russia made in a report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren on July 18, the IOC six days later refrained from imposing a blanket ban set and left individual federations to determine the eligibility of Russians for Rio, subject to strict criteria.

Apart from having to have undergone doping tests outside Russia and undergo a thorough review of their doping records by the respective sports federations, the IOC also said: "The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction."

But the CAS said Thursday this "IOC decision is unenforceable as it does not respect the athletes‘ right of natural justice."

It said that "the two athletes should be considered by FISA ... to determine their eligibility or not, without delay."

The CAS however supported the other criteria set by the IOC, saying they are according to natural justice even though the IOC establishes a presumption of guilt instead of innocence.

The IOC did not have an immediate reaction to the latest CAS rulings but its president Thomas Bach had referred to pending cases earlier in the day.

"The IOC always respect the decisions of CAS. Sometimes we like the decisions, sometimes not, but we always respect them. CAS is the highest court in sport. But I‘m not in a position to tell you where we are with CAS, and what is pending," he said.

It remains to be seen whether other former Russian doping offenders will now attempt to compete based on Thursday‘s ruling.

There was huge criticism on the IOC for their decision regarding Stepanova who was caught cheating but then shared her knowledge about doping in Russia with German state network ARD and then a first WADA-commissioned probe.

Thre IOC lauded her engagement but denied her entry as a neutral athlete because "the sanction to which she was subject and the circumstances in which she denounced the doping practices which she had used herself, do not satisfy the ethical requirements for an athlete to enter the Olympic Games."

Meanwhile, Russian boxers, volleyballers, shooters and others were cleared en masse from wrongdoing by their federations as a total 271 athletes can compete.

Russia had originally nominated 389 athletes for Rio, but the whole athletics team of 67 and the weightlifting team of 18 were suspended earlier.

Bach on Thursday again defended the decision of the IOC not to ban the whole Russian team over the allegations, which also included tampering with test samples and disappearing positive tests.

He insisted the decision was not political.

"Justice has to be blind. You have to take notice of the facts. It was a very serious report with allegations concerning the anti-doping lab in Moscow and the ministry of sport. When having to take such a decision, the allegations play a major role," Bach said.

The IOC boss also reiterated that the investigation and McLaren‘s report are not finalized yet and added: "We all agree this is a situation we don‘t ever want to happen again."

McLaren, meanwhile, told the British newspaper The Guardian that the debate has become "political and hysterical." Reedie and WADA were heavily attacked during the week‘s IOC session.

McLaren insisted he has so far only looked at the allegations of state-sponsored doping but not at individual athletes implicated.

"People have misconstrued what was in that report, particularly the IOC and international federations. I have not done the work to drill down and see which athletes may have been doping and what they had been using," he said.

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