(Reuters) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday overturned life bans handed to Russian biathletes Olga Vilukhina, Yana Romanova and Olga Zaytseva, who were stripped of their medals for doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The trio won silver in the 4x6 kilometre relay biathlon before they were disqualified and their result annulled in 2017 following an investigation into widespread doping and tampering with samples of Russian athletes during the Sochi Games.
Vilukhina was also stripped of the silver she won in the 7.5 km sprint. The trio challenged the ruling after being implicated in the state-backed doping programme which led to many Russian athletes being banned by the International Olympic Committee.
CAS said the case against Vilukhina and Romanova amounted to nothing more than the “suspicion of a potential anti-doping rule violation (ADRV)”.
“The panel concluded that none of the acts alleged to have committed by these two athletes had been established to its comfortable satisfaction,” CAS said in a statement.
“The panel ordered that the findings and sanctions imposed upon Ms Vilukhina and Ms Romanova in the challenged decisions should be set aside and that their results in individual events at the Sochi Games should be reinstated.”
In Zaytseva’s case, CAS ruled that she had committed a doping violation but her ban should only be applied for the next edition of the Olympics -- the 2018 Pyeongchang Games -- instead of a life ban from all future Olympic Games.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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