(ATR) The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport with Russia’s Olympic participation in the balance.
CAS will determine the fate of Russian athletes at the next two Olympics. (CAS)
WADA in December 2019 imposed sanctions on Russia for manipulating and falsifying doping data from RUSADA’s Moscow laboratory. An appeal by Russia to CAS began on Nov. 2 and is scheduled to last until Nov. 5.
The hearing is behind closed doors in Lausanne because not all parties involved wanted it to be held in public.
Strict sanitary measures are also in place, given the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Switzerland and much of Europe. The hearing is being held in what CAS calls a “secure location”. Some of the parties, legal representatives and witnesses are attending in person while others will join virtually via video link.
RUSADA is appealing penalties that include a four-year ban on Russian athletes participating under their flag at major international competitions, including the next two Olympics.
Russian athletes who can prove to WADA’s satisfaction that they are clean will be eligible to compete as independent athletes under a neutral flag as was the case at PyeongChang 2018.
Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) with a volunteer as flag bearer at PyeongChang. (ATR)
RUSADA was previously suspended for what has been determined as a vast state-supported doping system revealed in a 2015 WADA-commissioned report. Russia was reinstated by WADA in September 2018 with one of the conditions being full disclosure of doping data from the Moscow lab.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and several Russian athletes have been admitted as intervening parties.
The IOC, IPC and EOC are involved to make sure any sanctions imposed by CAS do not leave any room for ambiguity so that further litigation can be avoided.
The ROC and RPC, as well as the Russian athletes, will ask CAS to declare the WADA decision to keep Russian athletes from competing under their own flag unlawful as a breach of the Olympic Charter, since it would mean the Russians would be competing on unequal footing with the rest of the athletes.
The IIHF and Russian Ice Hockey Federation want to make sure that Russia can still host the senior and junior world championships in 2023, according to TASS
. The IIHF also wants the Russian national team to be allowed to compete in the world championships.
The current WADA sanctions also include Russia being stripped of any world championships it has been awarded if the event is to be held during the four-year ban. Russia also may not bid for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
WADA president Witold Bańka (Wikipedia)
The CAS panel conducting the procedure is composed of Mark Williams (Australia), Luigi Fumagalli (Italy) and Hamid Gharavi (France/Iran).
WADA President Witold Bańka, in a statement on Oct. 30, said: “WADA has left no stone unturned in preparation for this hearing and we are looking forward to having the opportunity to present our case clearly and fairly to the Panel. I remain convinced that the WADA Executive Committee made the right recommendation in this case last December. As at every other stage, we are following due process in relation to RUSADA’s compliance procedure as we continue to deal effectively with this complex matter.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel will commence its deliberations and prepare the arbitral award with the decision to be announced at a later date. A short statement will be issued by CAS to confirm that the hearing has concluded. CAS says it will not organize any media briefings or press conferences.
WADA says it will not be holding any media briefings or press conferences prior to the arbitral award being announced by CAS.
Homepage photo: FIFA
Written by Gerard Farek
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