But individual athletes who were considered clean were permitted to enter as “Olympic athletes from Russia.” Russia initially announced it would send a team of 169 athletes to the Games, not far off from its usual delegation.
The athletes in limbo were cross country skiers and biathletes, bobsledders and speedskaters, hockey players and figure skaters. They included Viktor Ahn, a short-track speedskater who has won six Olympic gold medals, and Anton Shipulin, a biathlon world champion.
Elena Nikitina, a skeleton racer, was also among the athletes seeking a last-minute reprieve. At the 2014 Sochi Games, she won a bronze medal, finishing four-hundredths of a second ahead of Katie Uhlaender of the United States.
“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 Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision,” the court said in a statement.
Olympics officials first learned about Russia’s state-backed doping program in May 2016. After completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated what had been known for more than a year, the I.O.C. in December barred Russia’s Olympic committee from the Games and prohibited all insignia linked to the country. But in an effort to avoid punishing athletes who did not cheat, the I.O.C. later cleared more than 160 athletes it determined to be clean to participate as “Olympic athletes from Russia.”
Russia continues to deny the existence of a state-sponsored doping program.