MOSCOW, February 3 (RAPSI) - The Russian cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov and Evgeny Belov, suspended from sports competitions on doping allegations, have turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) seeking to reverse the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) decision, according to the CAS press release.

On December 22, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched investigation into the alleged violation of Anti-doping legislation by Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.  According to the second McLaren Independent Investigation Report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), urine samples taken from the athletes during the Olympics “may have been tampered with, by manipulation of samples in the WADA-accredited laboratory in Sochi.”

Following the IOC ruling, several Russian athletes including Legkov and Belov were banned from participating in competition events. On January 25, the FIS Doping Panel upheld the decision on the provisional suspension of athletes.

The first part of the so-called McLaren Report was presented by Professor Richard McLaren from Canada acting as an independent person in a probe into alleged state-sponsored cover up and manipulation of the doping control process in mid-July 2016. At that time the authors stated that the Russian sport authorities were aware of these facts; moreover, certain officials directly participated in falsifications.

According to the first part of the report, the work of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory was allegedly aimed at protection of Russian athletes taking prohibited substances, whereas the Sochi anti-doping laboratory developed a system of samples swapping during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The second part of the report, stating that “over 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter, and Paralympic sports could be identified as being involved in or benefitting from manipulations to conceal positive doping tests”, was released on December 9.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin yet on November 22 signed a bill toughening punishment for doping-related violations into law. The legislation envisages more serious punishments for inducing athletes to use any substance and (or) method prohibited to be used in sports, and for athletes proven to take prohibited substances.