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Russian appeals hearings end Thursday; ruling to come Friday

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is awaiting a ruling on the appeals of Russian athletes hoping to compete in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Forty-five Russian athletes and two coaches are seeking to overturn the International Olympic Committee's decision not to invite them to the games based on criteria put in place after doping issues at the Sochi Games in 2014.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport heard their appeals Thursday, but did not immediately issue a ruling. The court said it would come Friday morning -- nine hours before the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that the much-awaited ruling "should be respected and complied with." He said the IOC must abide by the court's ruling.

The first competitions of the Games -- including a U.S.-Russia curling match -- had already started when the Court of Arbitration for Sport heard the cases at a luxury resort in the mountains near Pyeongchang.

"We are hopeful that the panel will follow our argumentation and respect the rights of the athletes," said Philippe Baertsch, a lawyer for the Russians.

The total number of appeals hit 60 on Thursday, the day before the opening ceremony. The cases heard Thursday concern 45 Russian athletes and two coaches.

Six other Russian athletes' appeals -- which included two world champion speedskaters, Denis Yuskov and Pavel Kulizhnikov, plus athletes from biathlon and ski jumping -- were thrown out as CAS said it "lacked jurisdiction" to hear the cases.

Those six cases had been filed separately with applications by seven members of Russian support staff. CAS said its arbiters reviewed written submissions and "determined that the CAS ad hoc division lacked jurisdiction to deal with any of the two applications."

In attendance for the hearing were Elena Nikitina, the 2014 bronze medalist in women's skeleton, and Tatiana Ivanova, a luger who won silver in the team event in 2014.

Leaving the hearing, Nikitina said the three arbiters -- from Canada, Switzerland and Australia -- "were pleasant and we were listened to."

"We can't comment on what just happened at the panel. I'll just say that we came here to defend our good name and we were fully listened to by the CAS panel," said luge coach Albert Demchenko, who was at the hearing. "All our documents and words were heard."

The Russians are seeking to overturn the International Olympic Committee's decision not to invite them to the Games. If they win, it would force the IOC to accept athletes it considers to be linked to doping offenses.

The Russian team is formally banned, so they would have to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" in neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag. With 168 IOC-approved athletes, it's already one of the biggest teams in Pyeongchang.

The IOC won't comment on individual cases, but said its invitation process was based on evidence from a newly obtained Moscow laboratory database detailing doping in previous years.

Other athletes whose cases will be heard include Viktor Ahn, a six-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track speedskating, and Alexander Legkov, a cross-country skiing gold medalist.

Sergei Parkhomenko, the general secretary of the Russian Bobsled Federation, said athletes from his team were training in Siberia, ready to fly to South Korea at a moment's notice if CAS gives them the green light.

"We're hoping for a fair and logical decision from the court," he said. "If there's a positive ruling, they'll fly in."

Russian officials and athletes have indicated that not all of those who have filed appeals plan to compete if they win. Some are reportedly no longer in training, while others may not be included on full rosters in sports such as hockey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.