Olympic champion Alexander Legkov is one of the skiers involved ©Getty Images

Six Russian cross-country skiers will remain provisionally suspended until at least October 31 following a decision taken at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Olympic champion Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Julia Ivanova were all temporarily banned by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in December after being linked to doping offences in the second part of the McLaren Report.

This followed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) opening an investigation, with Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren alleging a Russian scheme to tamper with and manipulate doping samples at their home Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

An appeal made to the FIS Doping Panel in January was dismissed by the governing body, leading to cases being filed with CAS.

Five of the skiers requested a hearing, with Ivanova the only exception as her case was instead considered using written evidence.

CAS decided to allow time for both the IOC and FIS to deliver the findings of their investigations, but the existing suspensions cannot be kept in place after October 31.

Two Swiss-run IOC Commissions, chaired by Denis Oswald and former Swiss Confederation President Samuel Schmid are currently analysing the evidence in the McLaren Report.

All of the athletes will be free to compete again after October 31, however, unless the FIS issues a new suspension against one or more of the skiers for a doping offence.

"The panels in charge of these matters have noted that the reports following the investigations conducted by a special IOC Commission would be delivered during the summer period and found that it was necessary to allow the FIS time to complete its own investigation before issuing its final decisions concerning the six athletes," a CAS statement said.

Julia Ivanova did not request a hearing ©Getty Images
Julia Ivanova did not request a hearing ©Getty Images

"The CAS panels have maintained the provisional suspension imposed on each athlete until October 31, 2017 at the latest, unless any ADRV sanction is imposed against them by the FIS before that date. 

"Should the athletes not be found to have committed any ADRV before that date, then they will be restored to the status quo ante prevailing at the time of the imposition of the temporary suspension.

"A further provisional suspension may be imposed on the athletes by the FIS after that date, if the facts and circumstances so merit, and would be subject to appeal."

Legkov won the Olympic 50 kilometres freestyle event on home snow at Sochi 2014, and was a member of the silver medal winning 4x10km relay quartet.

Vylegzhanin won three silver medals in Sochi, in the team sprint, the 50km freestyle and the 4x10km relay.

In January, it was reported that he could face the prospect of an extended ban, after allegedly competing while still suspended.

Belov also competed in Sochi, finishing 18th in the skiathlon event.

Ivanova was a member of the women's 4x5km relay quartet which finished sixth.  

Christof Wieschemann, a German lawyer representing Legkov and Belov, has claimed that evidence about the duo in the McLaren Report was "inconsistent" and has repeatedly defended his clients.

"Depending on our impression we assume that the CAS panel may share some of our reasonable doubts about any conjunction between the swapped samples and the knowledge or involvement of individual athletes," he said today.