Olympic champion Aleksandr Legkov remains suspended from competition ©Getty Images

Appeals launched by Russian cross-country skiers Yevgeny Belov and Aleksandr Legkov against provisional suspensions introduced by the International Ski Federation (FIS) have been rejected today.

The duo were each suspended last month after Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren produced evidence suggesting they were among Russian athletes whose samples were tampered with.

Legkov is the reigning Olympic 50 kilometres freestyle champion and a member of the silver medal winning 4x10 kilometres relay quartet.

Belov's best finish at Sochi 2014 was 18th in the skiathlon event.

This marks a potentially significant decision by the FIS Anti-Doping panel after similar suspensions introduced against skeleton athletes were lifted.

Christof Wieschemann, a German lawyer representing both athletes, has claimed that evidence about the duo in the McLaren Report was "inconsistent".

Few details about the evidence have yet been revealed and it is now likely FIS' ruling will be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"The FIS Doping Panel, after having heard Evgeniy Belov and Alexander Legkov, and the FIS, has decided today by majority not to reverse its initial decision, but to uphold the provisional suspensions of Evgeniy Belov and Alexander Legkov until further notice," a FIS statement sent to insidethegames explained.

Yevgeny Belov is the other Russian skier whose appeal has been unsuccessful ©Getty Images
Yevgeny Belov is the other Russian skier whose appeal has been unsuccessful ©Getty Images

"As a result of the decisions, the above-mentioned athletes may not take part in any competitions or national team activities.

"The decisions of the FIS Doping Panel may be appealed exclusively to the CAS in Lausanne in accordance with the applicable provisions of CAS. 

"The time to file an appeal to CAS is 21 days."

Wieschemann has already criticised the ruling and claimed that it was not a unanimous decision.

"We were just informed that the FIS Doping Penal under its chairman Patrick Smith uphold today the provisional suspension imposed on December 22, 2016, although one of the three members of the panel does not share the opinion of the panel and wished to have his dissenting opinion included in the decision." he told insidethegames.

FIS also revealed that four other suspended Russian skiers suspended - Julia Ivanova, Evgenia Shapovalova, Alexey Petukhov and Maxim Vylegzhanin - have also filed appeals.

These are currently in progress.

Vylegzhanin, a three-time Olympic cross-country skiing silver medallist in Sochi, could face an extended ban after reportedly continuing to compete in domestic competitions in violation of FIS rules.