2018 Winter Olympics: 20 More Russian athletes appeal lifetime bans

Vladimir Putin still refuses to admit that Russia participated in state-backed doping.  Getty Images

Russia may be banned from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but more than 40 of the country's suspended athletes have appealed their lifetime suspensions in advance of the PyeongChang Games.

Twenty of them just filed appeals to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport this week, per the Associated Press, bringing the running total of banned but hopeful Winter Olympics athletes to 43. Russian deputy prime minister and former World Cup chairman Vitaly Mutko, who stepped down from the latter post amid his own ties to Russia's widespread doping scandal, has also appealed to the court but, unlike the athletes, won't have his case "fast-tracked" before February's South Korean Games.

The first mass wave of suspension appeals came early in December, the same week the International Olympic Committee barred Russia for a "state-backed doping program" that enabled hundreds of athletes to get away with failed drug tests. At that time, 22 of the country's Olympic competitors, including 11 medal winners from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, requested a decision on their fate before the start of the 2018 Games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it will hear the appeals cases the week of Jan. 22 and expects verdicts to be released by Jan. 31, per the AP. Even if the appealing Russians are cleared for Olympic participation, however, they will be forced to compete in PyeongChang in neutral uniforms, without any representation of their country.

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