IOC calm over Pyeongchang Winter Games doping appeal by Russian athletes

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends an IOC session ahead of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018

IOC calm over Pyeongchang Winter Games doping appeal by Russian athletes

LONDON: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was not worried about an expected ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expected today on whether 32 Russian athletes should be allowed to compete at the Winter Games starting this week.
As many as 32 Russian athletes filed yet more appeals with CAS seeking spots in the games. The 32 failed to pass IOC vetting and were not invited.
“We’re not fearful in any way,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
“We wait for the decision (today). We’re very confident with the stance we’ve taken.”
The IOC expects 168 Russian athletes who have been deemed “clean” to participate in the games under the banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” absent of any national flags, uniforms or national logos.
The contentious issue of the Russian ban, and the way it was handled by the IOC, threatens to overshadow the games themselves with 3,000 athletes expected to compete.
The sense that the story refuses to go away was only added to as Russia’s Olympic Athletes Commission expressed “huge disappointment” over the IOC’s decision not to invite to Pyeongchang 15 Russian athletes and staff whose life bans for doping were lifted.
The IOC ruled on Monday that 13 Russian athletes and two ex-athletes now working as support staff will not be invited to the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite having their life bans for doping removed last week by CAS.
The IOC has barred Russia from the Pyeongchang Olympics, which open on Friday, over a widespread doping conspiracy. But 169 Russians who have passed strict anti-doping protocols will compete under a neutral flag as Olympic Athletes from Russia.
“With a huge disappointment, the members of ROC’s Athletes’ Commission have found out about decision of IOC’s Invitation Review Panel not to invite 13 Russian athletes and 2 coaches fully acquitted by (the CAS) to 2018 Winter Olympics,” the commission statement said.
“It’s surprising that IOC Commission makes its decisions on the basis of some additional, suspicious, and anonymous information and accounts of one single fraudster,” the commission said, referring to whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who is the source of revelations on Moscow’s state-sponsored doping.
The Russian athletes’ statement said that they have supported the IOC statement “that it’s necessary to respect rights of clean athletes.”
However, the commission said that the “massive denial for clean Russian athletes violates the principle of equality and contests efficiency of justice.”
“Dreams of athletes willing to participate in Olympics who have fairly won the right for it are being destroyed, and irreparable damage is being caused to basic ideals, values of Olympism,” it said.


Halep wins Dubai tiebreaker to secure 20th title

Updated 23 February 2020

Halep wins Dubai tiebreaker to secure 20th title

  • Wimbledon champion wins her second Dubai Championships title

DUBAI: Top-seeded Simona Halep won her 20th singles title after prevailing in a third-set tiebreaker to beat Elena Rybakina 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the Dubai Championships final on Saturday.
No. 2-ranked Halep was 3-1 down in the third set. The Romanian broke to lead 6-5, but Rybakina’s powerful hitting forced the tiebreaker. Rybakina led 4-3 but Halep converted the only match point.
“It was amazing,” Halep said of the 2 1/2-hour final. “(Rybakina) fought till the end. She didn’t give up any balls. It was really tough mentally. The pressure was very high. But I want it badly, so that’s why I fought till the end.”
The Wimbledon champion won her second Dubai title.
Rybakina knocked out Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in earlier rounds, and was playing her fourth final of the young WTA season. She’s lost three of them.
Rybakina is projected to rise two spots to a career-high No. 17 in Monday’s rankings update.
“She’s strong. She’s tall. She has power,” Halep said. “I think she’s really good to get into the top 10 very soon.”