Sport's highest court has thrown out requests from athletes and coaches to lift the order banning them from the Winter Olympics. Russia has been forbidden from participating in the games over a widespread doping scandal.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday dismissed appeals by 45 Russian athletes and two coaches who have been banned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for their involvement in a state-sponsored doping program.
The ruling was handed down just hours before the Games' opening ceremony.
"We welcome this decision which supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes," the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who oversees sports, criticized Friday's decision, claiming it had been influenced by the stance of the IOC.
"It's difficult for CAS to make decisions against the backdrop of an earlier pressure," he told Interfax news agency, describing the IOC'S procedures on deciding who attends the games or not as "opaque, controversial."
In September 2016, the sports world was rocked by a report released by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that accused Moscow of orchestrating a doping cover-up on an "unprecedented scale" at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. At least 1,000 athletes were reportedly involved.
Last week, the CAS upheld 28 and partially upheld 11 appeals against lifetime Olympic bans against Russian athletes, but maintained their Pyeongchang bans.
Fifteen of the athletes whose appeals to participate in Pyeongchang were thrown out on Friday were among the group that had their lifetime bans lifted.
Last December, the IOC banned Russia from participating at the 2018 Winter Games. A total of 168 Olympians from Russia who have been cleared of doping will be allowed to take part in their events under the Olympic flag.
tj,es/msh (AFP, Reuters)