(ATR) The life bans imposed by the IOC on three Russian biathletes are overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Olga Vilukhina (Wikipedia)
Olga Vilukhina, Yana Romanova and Olga Zaytseva were part of the Russian team that won the silver medal in the women’s 4 x 6km team relay at Sochi 2014.
The IOC, based on testimony from the former head of the Moscow Anti-doping Laboratory turned whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, found the three biathletes guilty of anti-doping rule violations as part of the widespread cover-up scheme implemented by Russia during the Sochi Games.
The IOC in December 2017 disqualified them from all events they took part in during the 2014 Games, ordered them to return all medals, pins and diplomas earned during the Games, and banned them from participating in any capacity for all future Olympic Games.
The three-person CAS panel announced on Thursday that none of the acts alleged to have been committed by Vilukhina and Romanova “had been established to its comfortable satisfaction”. The panel ordered the findings and sanctions imposed by the IOC to be set aside and the results in their individual events at the Sochi Games reinstated.
Yana Romanova (Wikimedia Commons)
However, Vilukhina and Romanova will not be getting their silver medals back. That’s because CAS agrees with the IOC that Zaytseva did commit a doping violation in the form of both urine substitution and the use of a prohibited substance.
Zaytseva’s results in the six events in which she took part, including the medal-winning 4 x 6km team relay, remain disqualified.
CAS, though, decided that a lifetime ban for Zaytseva was not warranted. They declared her ineligible for only the next edition of the Winter Olympic Games, which were held in PyeongChang in 2018.
All three of the athletes had already retired from competition.
An IOC spokesperson, when contacted by ATR
, said “The IOC takes note of the CAS decision which we have to respect.”
In February 2018, CAS overturned 28 of 39 cases involving Russian athletes at Sochi 2014. An IOC appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal in one of those overturned cases was rejected in January 2019 and the IOC decided not to pursue appeals in the remaining 27 cases.
Rodchenkov's lawyer, Jim Walden, released the following statement to Around the Rings
about Thursday's decision.
“Although it is heartening that CAS upheld the finding of doping against Zaitseva and the disqualification of the results of the Russian biathlon relay team, CAS’s acquittal of the other athletes on such a flimsy basis, despite resounding evidence of sample tampering, shows only that the international system is rigged against clean athletes. This proves, once again, that robust criminal enforcement of anti-doping rules by U.S. authorities is the last, best hope for clean athletes everywhere.”
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is currently before the U.S. Senate for consideration. The House of Representatives approved it in October 2019. Under the legislation, those found guilty of doping at any major international sports competition would be subject to criminal penalties including fines and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
WADA, in a statement following its executive committee meeting last week, said "There remain widely held concerns among other governments, the Sports Movement, and other anti-doping stakeholders over the Act’s extra-territoriality, its negative unintended consequences and the fact that it was amended specifically to exclude the American professional leagues and college sports, which account for more than half a million athletes within the U.S."
Homepage photo: FIFA
Written by Gerard Farek
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