Russia: Athletes will not return 2014 Winter Olypmic medals

Russian athletes stripped of their titles from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics over doping will not return their medals until an appeal has been heard, the country's sports ministry said yesterday.

The International Olympic Committee on Monday sanctioned five Russian athletes, including two four-man bobsleigh champions and two biathlon silver medallists, following recommendations from the Oswald Commission into the doping scandal.

"The Russian Bobsleigh Federation and the Cross Country Ski Federation of Russia are ready to appeal at the Court for Arbitration for Sport," the ministry said in a statement quoted by the Interfax press agency.

Athletes "have no intention of turning in their medals" before the appeal, the statement added.

Russian biathlete Yana Romanova, who has been disqualified, said on Tuesday that she would rather "throw (her) medal in the bin than give it back to the IOC".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov decried the "baseless decisions" of the IOC and promised to "defend our athletes actively and with energy".

Russia has been stripped of 11 of its 33 medals from the event, meaning the country has lost its position at the top of the table to Norway.

The IOC is due to decide next week whether Russia will be allowed to participate at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea in February.

A report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia. The investigation said that the cheating peaked at the 2014 Winter Olympics, where Russian secret agents engineered an elaborate system of state-backed doping.

Russia has consistently denied the allegation. - AFP