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A special tribunal based in Switzerland has overturned lifetime Olympic bans for 28 Russian athletes accused of doping and reinstated their results from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

"With respect to these 28 athletes, the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled, and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 are reinstated", a CAS statement said.

Meanwhile, suspensions on 11 other players have been partially upheld, which means they will only miss the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang beginning on February 9, reports the New York Times.

About 11 other athletes were confirmed by CAS to have committed doping violations.

The cases of a further three Russian Olympians - Olga Zaytseva, Olga Vilukhina and Yana Romanova - have been "suspended" while the 43rd, Bobsleigher Maxim Belugin, did not lodge an appeal with Cas.

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Last week's mass CAS hearings were as a result of allegations of a vast state-sponsored doping programme contained in the report into Sochi authored by sports law professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"In this context, it is also important to note that, in his press conference, the CAS Secretary General insisted that the CAS decision "does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent".

The World Olympic body said Russian athletes who can prove that they are clean would be "invited" to take part in Pyeongchang, under a neutral flag.

However, according to the CAS statement, the court "unanimously found that the evidence put forward by the International Olympic Committee in relation to this matter did not have the same weight in each individual case".

"This may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping".

"This panel's unfortunate decision provides a very small measure of punishment for some athletes but a complete "get out of jail free card" for most", he said.

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"Dr. Rodchenkov testified fully and credibly at CAS", the statement said.

Those reinstated at the Sochi Olympics include skeleton gold-medalist Aleksander Tretyakov and cross-country-skiing gold-medalist Aleksander Legkov.

He added: "The CAS decision only emboldens cheaters, makes it harder for clean athletes to win, and provides yet another ill-gotten gain for the corrupt Russian doping system generally, and Putin specifically".

Three Russian biathletes who have appealed against the International Olympic Committee ban will have their cases heard later.

The Russian government vehemently denies ever supporting doping. The IOC still has to approve the decision regarding the medals.

The IOC has also banned numerous Russian politicians and officials from the Pyeongchang Games over the doping scandal, including deputy prime minister and former sports minister Vitaly Mutko.

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They can not wave the Russian flag at the event and, if they win, the Russian anthem will not be played.


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