What does the CAS ruling mean?
The Court of Sports Arbitration (CAS) has lifted the lifetime bans on 28 Russian winter athletes on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Systematic state doping is going unpunished, some commentators complain. Others say the exonerated athletes won't be able to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Games anyway.
Putin and Bach have achieved their goal
Deutschlandfunk is incensed to see proven cases of doping go unpunished:
“Individual athletes are clearly being acquitted precisely because they were subject to a state-run system. Or to put it simply: when it comes to collective guilt, you can't punish individuals. So now not a single member of the Russian state doping apparatus will be punished. This is exactly what IOC president Thomas Bach and his pal Vladimir Putin were hoping to achieve. ... So everything stays the same: despite all the promises, outrage, investigations and committees the international Olympics Committee, the lords of the rings, have recognised Russia's state doping system and named it as such. But there are no consequences. Zero!”
Sport increasingly pushed into the background
The decision is an embarrassing setback for the IOC, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:
“In any event, the doping manipulations scandal in Sochi is taking on a life of its own and casting a poor light on the Olympic movement, which has long been seeking more acceptance in vain, above all in the West where Olympic contenders are no longer to be found. The steady stream of headlines on the fringes of the Games is clouding people's view of sport itself, and it is to be feared that at least temporarily that will also be the case during the Games in South Korea. Just imagine what a field day the mass media will have if the cross-country gold medallist Legkov, who'd been banned from competing since December 2016, suddenly puts in a strong performance in Pyeongchang.”
No cause for celebration
Russia has no reason to celebrate because the IOC has reserved the right to not invite the 28 athletes to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, columnist Vladimir Osipov writes in Kommersant:
“Their Olympic preparation was all to no avail. ... Firstly because the deadline for registration was January 28. Secondly because other athletes have now been invited in their place. Thirdly because, despite the fact that it recognises the CAS's decision, the IOC continues to maintain that there was a system for doping athletes in Russia. ... We can be happy that 28 of our athletes were exonerated. But this will have no effect whatsoever on the IOC's decisions. ... I'm very sorry to say it but I'm certain that none of these young men and women who have now been absolved will be able to compete in Pyeongchang.”