By Diyar Guldogan
An appeal by dozens of Russian athletes hoping to compete in the Winter Olympics in South Korea starting on Friday has been dismissed.
The 47 athletes appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against their expulsion from the games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over doping during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"The Applicants challenged the IOC decision refusing to invite them to participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and requested that CAS overturn the IOC decision," the court said in a statement.
The statement said the court's arbitrators 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.
Late 2017, the IOC barred Russian athletes from competing under the country's flag in PyeongChang, South Korea, although those with a clean record of drug-testing will be able to compete as neutrals.
For its part, the Kremlin on Friday rejected the court's decision to bar Russian athletes from the Olympics, which lasts through Feb. 25.
"Regarding the CAS decision, we regret it and we take into account the decision of the court and, of course, we will continue to help our athletes to defend their rights," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russia’s official news agency TASS.
Peskov said it was not time for "loud statements" on global sport reform, adding: "The main thing is to support our athletes".