Russia hails CAS not banning athletes from Olympics, slams Putin exclusion

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Diamond League athletics.
Diamond League athletics.
Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool via Getty Images

Russia's Olympic Committee on Thursday expressed its satisfaction with the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to not ban the country's athletes from participating in the Olympics.

Sport's highest court on Thursday barred Russia from the international stage for two years including the rearranged Tokyo Olympics and Beijing Winter Games, but halved a four-year ban for systemic doping imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The country will also miss out on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Russian Olympic Committee's president Stanislav Pozdnyakov expressed satisfaction that CAS had not "collectively" banned Russia's athletes, who will still be able to participate under a neutral flag if they prove no connection to doping.

Mikhail Bukhanov, acting head of the country's anti-doping agency RUSADA, said: "Today's results are a victory for Russia."

"The court decided not to accept the theses that WADA demanded. Of course, this is a significant precedent," he added.

However Pozdnyakov blasted as "unacceptable" CAS's decision to ban Russia's high-ranking officials, including the country's president Vladimir Putin, from attending the Games.

Russia has been roiled by the doping saga for the past four years, after the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov blew the whistle over state-backed doping at the country's 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Russia considers the resulting ban to be legally indefensible and Putin has slammed the decision as "politically motivated".

On Thursday Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin as saying that he "regretted" the ban on Russian officials at the Games.

"We believe that Russia in this period, over recent years, has done a lot for the development of world sport," he said.

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