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Rodchenkov to testify as CAS hears Russian doping appeals

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Lausanne (AFP)

Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the source of revelations about state-sponsored doping in Russia, is expected to testify next week at a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing involving the appeals of 39 Russians banned for doping.

CAS, sport's highest tribunal, will examine the cases of 39 of 42 Russian athletes who lodged appeals against lifetime Olympic bans imposed by the International Olympic Committee over anti-doping violations at the 2014 Winter Games.

Rodchenkov and Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, the author of the World Anti-Doping Agency's bombshell report into the state-sponsored doping, have both been announced as witnesses, CAS said in a statement on Wednesday.

Neither will attend the combined hearing in Geneva, which starts on Monday and will run until January 27 or 28, but they "are expected to testify by videoconference or telephone-conference", CAS added.

Rodchenkov is the former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory who fled to the United States in 2016 saying he feared for his life after the sudden death of two senior officials in the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

He then provided information which led to an investigation of doping at Sochi.

Cross-country skier Alexander Legkov, who won 50km gold at Sochi, and double Olympic bobsleigh champion Aleksandr Zubkov -- both of whom were later stripped of their titles -- are among those appealing in Switzerland.

While Zukbov has since retired from the sport and is now head of the Russian bobsleigh federation, his suspension prevents him from attending competitions or official events.

But other athletes are still hopeful of taking part in next month's Olympics in Pyeongchang, with a final decision on each case "likely" to come between January 29 and February 2 -- only a week before the start of the Games.

The cases involving three biathletes have been suspended and will be heard at a later date.

Russia had originally finished top of the medals table in Sochi, but it has lost 13 of the 33 medals won at the 2014 Olympics, slipping down to fourth following the explosive report based on Rodchenkov's revelations.

The country has been banned from taking part at the 2018 Winter Olympics, which run from February 9 to 25, due to the alleged widespread doping.

However, athletes who prove themselves to be clean have been told by the IOC they can compete under strict conditions, and under a neutral flag.

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