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  • IOC Says Russia Verdict Threatens Fight Against Doping


    (ATR) The Court of Arbitration for Sport today overturned doping bans for 28 Russian athletes, triggering a sharp response from the IOC.
    Matthieu Reeb, the CAS secretary general, announced the court's verdict at a sparsely attended Main Press Center today (ATR)

    The CAS said it found “insufficient” evidence that the athletes were guilty of doping offences at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, upholding their appeals and ruling to reinstate medals and results disqualified by the IOC. It reinstates nine Sochi 2014 medals.

    In a separate CAS case, another 11 Russians lost their appeals against sanctions for committing doping violations. The IOC said it "clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation" of the Sochi Olympics anti-doping procedures.

    But CAS slashed their lifetime Olympic bans to a ban from the Pyeongchang Games.

    The CAS verdict on the 28 Russians, quashing the IOC’s punishments, immediately cast a shadow over the IOC’s anti-doping system, creating chaos and confusion with the PyeongChang Games just eight days away. The reduction of life bans to a one-month ban for the other athletes also sets a precedent for future doping cases.

    Responding to the verdict of sport’s top court, the IOC denied that all of the 28 athletes who won their cases would be allowed to compete in the PyeongChang Olympics, which opens next week. The IOC said the CAS ruling "does not mean that these 28 athletes are declared innocent”.

    An IOC official familiar with the case tells Around The Rings that the athletes are unlikely to be invited to compete. The official notes that it might have been easier to ban the whole team.

    The IOC expressed “disappointment” that the CAS panels “did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases”. The ruling came in the wake of two independently-commissioned WADA reports which detailed state-sponsored doping schemes, including manipulation and swapping of urine samples, at the Sochi Games.

    The IOC said the CAS required an "even higher threshold" on the necessary level of evidence than the Oswald Commission and former CAS decisions.

    “This may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping,” it said in a statement.

    “Therefore, the IOC will analyse the reasoned decisions very carefully once they are available and consider consequences, including an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.”

    The CAS rulings combined with the IOC executive board’s December decision not to slap a blanket ban on Russian athletes, as the International Paralympic Committee has done, means Russia will be well represented at PyeongChang 2018 - even though they will be competing as neutral athletes.

    Last month, the IOC issued invitations to 169 Russians to participate in this month's Games under the label 'Olympic Athletes from Russia'. 

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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