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Russians banned from Sochi Olympics at 25 and growing

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — More Russian doping cases from the Sochi Olympics are on the way, the International Olympic Committee said Friday as it banned three more athletes from the country.

The IOC said its commission is dealing with 36 cases, eight more than previously acknowledged.

Of that total, 25 athletes have now been banned — including the three in Friday’s rulings — and one has been cleared, figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova.

“As some investigations are still ongoing (notably the forensic analysis of the bottles), it cannot be excluded that there might be new elements that would justify opening further new cases,” the IOC said in a statement.

The three banned Friday include Olga Zaitseva, a biathlon relay silver medalist. That medal, however, has already been stripped because teammate Olga Vilukhina was banned Monday.

Zaitseva remains one of the most successful Russian biathletes in history, with two gold medals and a silver medal from previous Olympics. She will keep those medals because the ruling only applies to the 2014 Games, not the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

Cross-country skiers Anastasia Dotsenko and Yulia Chekaleva were also banned Friday. Neither won a medal.

The IOC started its investigations last year after World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren detailed a vast Russian program of doping and cover-ups, including tampering with samples at the Sochi laboratory.

Also Friday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it had lifted provisional suspensions from nine Russians banned by the IOC.

The move, which leaves the Russians free to compete in non-Olympic events like the World Cup, was taken because the IOC hasn’t yet provided the IBSF will full details of its investigations.

That mirrors the position taken by the International Ski Federation, which did not immediately suspend six Russians after their IOC bans, but then suspended them on Thursday after receiving more information.

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MORE: Full list of Russians disqualified from Sochi Olympics

Stina Nilsson wins opening World Cup cross-country sprint

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RUKA, Finland (AP) Swedish skier Stina Nilsson won a women’s sprint race as the cross-country World Cup opened for its Olympic season on Friday.

Nilsson won the women’s classical event by 0.24 seconds from Sadie Bjornsen of the United States. Yulia Belorukova of Russia was third, 0.91 seconds off the pace.

Nilsson continued her strong form after winning the last three World Cup sprints last season.

“I had a really good feeling,” she said.

Russia entered three men’s and women’s skiers who have been banned by the International Olympic Committee for their part in a Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics. The IOC bans don’t affect non-Olympic events.

Belorukova hasn’t faced any IOC sanctions.

MORE: Russian skiers banned from Olympics, World Cup OK

Russian skiers banned from Olympics allowed to race World Cup opener

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics can compete in World Cup races this weekend because the International Ski Federation (FIS) has been unable to prosecute its own cases in time.

Six Russians, including two Sochi medalists, were retroactively disqualified from the Winter Games this month and banned from the Olympics for life by the IOC.

FIS previously blocked all six from competing with interim suspensions, but those expired on Oct. 31. The International Olympic Committee judging panel then reached its verdicts this month.

However, FIS said Thursday that its own judicial body lacks key IOC documents to process cases.

“Consequently, the FIS Doping Panel is obliged to wait until the IOC Disciplinary Commission reasoned decisions are submitted with details of the evidence relied on,” said the governing body, which is responsible for imposing competition bans.

“As a consequence the active athletes are eligible to compete in FIS including World Cup competitions for the time being,” FIS said.

The World Cup season for men and women begins Friday in Ruka, Finland, with sprint and long-distance racing.

Organizers had not published starting lists Thursday for the three-day meeting and it was unclear which of the six intend to start.

Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin both won multiple medals in Sochi but were stripped by the IOC. The others suspended by the IOC were Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova.

FIS said rules governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency meant it could not re-impose interim bans without “a specific allegation” plus evidence.

Attempting to assure cross-country skiers they will not be competing against doped rivals, FIS said an additional and independent testing program for Russians has been in operation since June and has taken about 250 blood and urine samples.

The three-man IOC disciplinary panel — chaired by Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and member of the Olympic body’s executive board — has not issued detailed reasons for judgments in 10 cases from Sochi so far completed in cross-country skiing and skeleton.

Without positive doping tests, the panel used evidence of state-backed cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles in the Sochi laboratory first gathered last year by WADA investigator Richard McLaren.

At least 18 more Russian athletes are having their cases prosecuted in an ongoing series of hearings in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On Wednesday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it would update “within the next days” action against four Russians, including the Sochi gold medalist Alexander Tretiyakov and bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.

Nikitina won a skeleton World Cup race last weekend in Park City, Utah — a result which may soon be overturned by the IBSF.

All the Russian athletes disqualified by the IOC can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Dec. 5, IOC President Thomas Bach will announce after a board meeting if the Russian team will be banned from the Olympics, which open Feb. 9 in PyeongChang.

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MORE: IOC sets date, time to announce Russia Olympic decision