Appeals from 45 Russian athletes have been dismissed by the CAS ©Getty Images

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeals of all 45 Russian athletes hoping to be cleared to compete at the Winter Olympic Games here, it was announced today.

Appeals filed by two coaches have also been dismissed by the Ad Hoc Division of the CAS.

The announcement, delivered by CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb, means athletes such as Olympic skeleton champion Alexander Tretiakov and Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist Alexander Legkov will be barred from participating at Pyeongchang 2018. 

In a statement, Reeb said the CAS ruled the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forcing Russia to compete as neutrals was an "eligibility" decision rather than a sanction, paving the way for the IOC to ban the athletes.

Reeb added that the CAS panel found the Russian athletes did not successfully prove the that the manner in which the two IOC Commissions - the Invitation Review Panel and the Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) Implementation Group - evaluated them was carried out in a "discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner".

CAS also concluded there was no evidence the two IOC panels "improperly exercised their discretion".

"In its decisions, the CAS arbitrators have considered that the process created by the IOC to establish an invitation list of Russian athletes to compete as OAR could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision," the CAS statement read.

"Although the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended, the IOC nevertheless chose to offer individual athletes the opportunity to participate in the Winter Games under prescribed conditions - a process that was designed to balance the IOC’s interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russia."

The ruling, announced just hours before tonight's Opening Ceremony, also prohits six-time Olympic short-track speed skating gold medallist Viktor Ahn, Sergei Ustyugov and Anton Shipulin - world champions in cross-country and biathlon respectively - from competing.

Olympic skeleton bronze medallist Elena Nikitina will also not take part here.

Olympic skeleton champion Alexander Tretiakov is among the athletes from Russia barred from competing at Pyeongchang 2018 following an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport ©Getty Images
Olympic skeleton champion Alexander Tretiakov is among the athletes from Russia barred from competing at Pyeongchang 2018 following an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport ©Getty Images

All Russian athletes implicated were retrospectively disqualified from Sochi 2014 by an IOC Commission chaired by Denis Oswald for their role in the "systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping process at the Games before successful appeals to the CAS last month.

In a statement, the IOC welcomed the decision of CAS.

They claimed it "supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes".

The ruling followed yesterday's CAS announcement they did not have the jurisdiction to deal with cases filed by six Russian athletes, including speed skaters Denis Yuskov and Pavel Kulizhnikov, and seven coaches yesterday.

It is believed this was because they had already all unsuccessfully appealed to the Swiss Civil Courts.

It means the number of athletes on the OAR team remains at 168.

A total of 169 were initially invited but speed skater Olga Graf turned down an invitation in protest at the IOC forcing them to compete as neutrals.

Russian officials had last night appeared confident in their chances of success.

insidethegames understands that the Russian legal team attempted to argue the 17 criteria drawn up by the IOC Invitation Review panel, chaired by former French Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron, published last month are invalid.

They instead claim that Russian athletes should only be barred if they fail to meet three criteria drawn-up in a statement published on December 5.

This outlined that athletes "must not have been disqualified or declared ineligible for any Anti-Doping Rule Violation", "must have undergone all the pre-Games targeted tests recommended by the Pre-Games Testing Task Force", and "must have undergone any other testing requirements specified by the panel to ensure a level playing field".

It was also stipulated then that the IOC panel "at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list".