Russia's desperate attempt to get 45 banned athletes—including several medal favorites—into the Pyeongchang Olympics failed just hours before Friday's opening ceremony. The International Olympic Committee had banned Russia because of a massive doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games, but gave individual athletes the chance to apply for admission to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russia." There were 168 Russians who passed the vetting process. Dozens more filed appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. On Friday, the court upheld the IOC's right to decide who can compete, the AP reports. Anti-doping officials praised the ruling, which is a heavy blow to Russian medal chances.
"That's it. The story is over," Russian delegation spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said. After two days of hearings, the CAS panel ruled that the commissions that evaluated whether Russian applicants were eligible did not act in a "discriminatory, arbitrary, or unfair manner." The IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency welcomed the decision. The IOC said the decision "supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes." WADA president Craig Reedie described it as "absolutely correct." The panel "quite clearly understood that there was systemic manipulation of the anti-doping process," Reedie said. "It means the games can proceed. Athletes can get their heads down and go. This particular issue is now behind us."