Just days before the start of the 2018 Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee has formally refused to invite 15 Russian athletes and coaches who had their lifetime bans overturned by an international court.
The IOC announced its decision Sunday during meetings at the site of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The refusal was not surprising – facing reporters here on Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach had reiterated that invitation to the Olympics is a privilege, not a right.
“We have to do our job,” he said.
Russia has been barred from competing as a nation at these Games in the wake of a widespread scandal that has seen cheating by athletes, coaches and officials. There has also been evidence of Russian lab workers tampering with samples to keep their athletes from testing positive.
Individual athletes have been given an opportunity to join the “Olympic Athlete from Russia” squad and compete under a neutral flag if they can prove they have not used performance-enhancing drugs in the past.
So far, the IOC has invited 169 Russians to be on the OAR squad.
Twenty-eight of the banned Russians appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which, last week, overturned sanctions for 15 of the athletes but issued only a brief decision.
The IOC sent those 15 cases back to its Invitation Review Panel, which rejected them again on Sunday.
“While the Invitation Review Panel noted the CAS decision,” the IOC stated, “it also noted that the full reasoning for these decisions had not been made public.”