The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland ruled that “none of the acts alleged to have [been] committed by these two athletes had been established to its comfortable satisfaction and beyond the mere suspicion of a potential ADRV [anti-doping rule violation].
“Accordingly, the Panel ordered that the findings and sanctions imposed upon Ms Vilukhina and Ms Romanova in the challenged decisions should be set aside and that their results in individual events at the Sochi Games should be reinstated.”
The pair had been banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in November 2017 as part of the allegations of Russian state-sponsored doping, and also had their results expunged from the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Vilukhina claimed an individual silver medal in the women’s 7.5 km sprint in Sochi, while both were members of the 4 x 6km team which won silver.
However, they will not be able to reclaim their team silver medal after teammate Olga Zaytseva lost her appeal against a ban.
“The Panel concluded that Ms Zaytseva committed ADRVs in the form of the use of a prohibited method (urine substitution) and in the form of the use of a prohibited substance,” the CAS statement read.
“The IOC decision in this matter is confirmed, with one exception: Ms Zaytseva is declared ineligible for the next edition of the Olympic Winter Games subsequent to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games (i.e. PyeongChang 2018) instead of a life ban from all Olympic Games.”
Responding to the news, Vilukhina said: “I am certainly glad about the news of the court’s decision regarding Yana and me.
“During this three-year battle, so much water has flowed under the bridge, and some began to doubt my truth.
“But at the same time, I am also indignant about the decision regarding Ola Zaytseva, we know that she is innocent, we have no doubts,” Vilukhina added.
“A lot of politics are involved, although they say that politics and sports are not connected … In general, they figured out who to ban – Zaytseva. A person from the IBU commission, who has always fought against doping, who is the best athlete! And they continue to beat her now.”
All three biathletes have since retired from their sport.
Zaytseva will now take her case to a Swiss civil court, according to her lawyer, Alexey Panich.
Zaytseva herself said: “We were in the same team, but one had a positive decision, the other had a negative one, this is all nonsense, and for some reason everyone believes (whistleblower doctor Grigory) Rodchenkov…
“But I, my lawyers, those who help me – we will fight to the last. I have always defended Russia at the events, rebuilt the honor of the country – I’m no stranger to fighting. I am determined to prove the truth.”
Despite a wave of Russian bans handed out in the wake of claims of state-sponsored doping made by disgraced former Moscow anti-doping lab boss Grigory Rodenchenkov – who has since fled to the US – dozens of Russian athletes have since won their appeals against suspensions.
In 2018, CAS fully acquitted and overturned bans for 28 Russians, including Olympic champion Alexander Legkov, due to a lack of evidence to back up allegations that they doped.