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3 Russian medallists appeal in Sochi Olympics doping cases

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Three Russian biathletes went to sport’s highest court on Monday to appeal against being stripped of their silver medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics for doping. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said a scheduled two-day hearing started with biathletes Olga Vilukhina, Yana Romanova and Olga Zaytseva in attendance. A verdict is expected to take at least several weeks.

The biathletes are challenging International Olympic Committee disciplinary rulings in 2017 to disqualify them from the Sochi Winter Games after being implicated in a state-backed doping program. Their appeals started more than two years after being separated from 39 other Russian doping cases that two CAS panels heard and judged days ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Games opened. A total of 28 athletes won and had their Sochi disqualifications overturned.

At the Sochi Olympics, Vilukhina won silver in the 7.5-kilometer individual sprint, and all three were in the Russian quartet that took silver in the 4x6-kilometer relay. In a separate legal action in 2018, the three biathletes filed a defamation suit in the United States against Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow and Sochi testing laboratories.

Rodchenkov's evidence was key to detailing the Sochi doping program. He is now living under a U.S. witness protection program. The defamation suit was supported by Mikhail Prokhorov, then owner of the Brooklyn Nets and a former president of Russia’s biathlon federation. The suit was described by Rodchenkov’s lawyer as an attempt to discover the whistleblower’s whereabouts.

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