International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has criticised the Court of Arbitration for Sport after it overturned lifetime doping bans for 28 Russians.
The IOC plans to appeal after CAS, sport’s highest court, ruled last Thursday there was “insufficient evidence” to uphold the suspensions issued by the IOC following an investigation into state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In a further 11 cases anti-doping violations were confirmed, but their lifetime bans have been reduced just to cover the 2018 Winter Games, which open in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday.
The IOC must wait for a reasoned decision from CAS before an appeal can be launched. CAS has told the IOC this will not be available until the end of February, Bach said in Pyeongchang on Sunday.
“This CAS decision is extremely disappointing and surprising for the IOC. We never expected this,” Bach told a media conference.
“We only know about the reasons from a very few sentences in a press release. So far the panel was not able to produce a reasoned decision, which we are eagerly waiting for.
“We have been told this could be end of February, which is an extremely unsatisfactory situation, given the gravity of the cases.
“You can only look into an appeal seriously when you have the reasoned decision, which we do not have.
“We need the reasoned decision to see whether we have any prospect of success. If we have any such prospect, we will appeal.”
“We feel this decision shows the urgent need for reforms in the internal structure of CAS,” the German added.
“CAS has to change in structure in a way that it can ensure that it can better manage the quality and consistency of its jurisdiction.”
There will be Russian athletes in Pyeongchang, competing under the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem played.
Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) will be the third largest athlete delegation, with 169 athletes to date. Only the United States and Canada will have more competitors.
Bach is hopeful that a final decision on whether or not to invite the Russian athletes affected by the CAS ruling will be made before the Winter Olympics get underway on Friday. The IOC will follow the process announced in December in appraising the affected athletes.
Bach said: “With regard to the Russian cases, we also have made it very clear that the absence of a sanction by CAS does not mean that you’re entitled to receive an invitation from the IOC.
“Receiving this invitation is a privilege for a clean Russian athlete.
“I hope very much that this decision will come in the next couple of days.”
Medals won by drug cheats four years ago will not be redistributed, as the IOC must wait for all legal avenues to be exhausted.
“Unfortunately, here in Pyeongchang, this reallocation of medals cannot happen yet,” Bach said.
Bach added that the IOC is still to receive from the Russian Olympic Committee the US dollars 15million fine demanded in December.