CAS rejects the exclusion of doping sanctioned Russians

Foto: Colourbox

Photo: Colourbox


By Søren Bang
CAS has overruled the IOC’s decision that Russian athletes, who have served a doping sanction, will not be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio. The ruling may allow more than the current 271 approved Russian athletes to compete.

The IOC will not be allowed to deny the Russian Olympic Committee to select contestants for the Olympic Games in Rio solely because they have previously received a doping sanction.

This decision was rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS, in two rulings, which include the two Russian rowers Anastasia Karabelshikova and Ivan Podshivalov along with the Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova.

With this, CAS has overruled one of the IOC’s criteria set to determine which Russian athletes will be allowed to participate in Rio. The criteria were set by the IOC’s Executive Committee after the so-called McLaren report published in July documented an extensive system of state-supported doping in Russia.

In its ruling, CAS declares that the IOC decision of excluding Russians with an earlier doping sanction conflicts with the rules of natural justice and “deprives the Russian athletes of the presumption of innocence and rather establishes a presumption of guilt, but one that is rebuttable by the athletes on an individual basis”.  The decision goes with CAS’ previous decision against the so-called Osaka-rule, which established that the IOC could not exclude former doping sanctioned athletes from the Olympics as this would punish them twice for the same offence.

In turn, CAS’ rulings accept the IOC’s remaining criteria for determining which Russians can be denied access to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. CAS therefore refuses the athletes’ claim that their federations and the IOC should approve their participation in the Rio Games.

Instead, it will be up to their respective international federations and the IOC to assess if they can be excluded from the Olympics based on the other criteria. These call, among other things, for individual evaluations of whether the athletes have been submitted to “reliable adequate international tests”.

Quoting a spokesperson from the international rowing federation FISA, the online media Inside the Games writes that this could mean that the rower Ivan Podshivalov - but not Anastasia Karabelshikova - will be proposed to the IOC for participation in the Games. The possible participation of a number of other athletes is still undecided.

At least 271 Russians will compete in the Rio Games
Just before the CAS rulings the IOC gave the green light to 271 Russian athletes from the original entry list of 389 athletes presented by the Russian National Olympic Committee. The majority of the rejected athletes are subject to the International Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) almost complete exclusion of Russian athletes.

The rulings raise new concerns over the validity of the IOC’s rejection of allowing the Russian whistle-blower Yuliya Stepanova to participate in Rio. It was in part the former doping sanctioned Stepanova’s information that helped ignite the Russian doping scandal, and the IAAF had recommended that the IOC, despite Russian aversion, allowed Stepanova to participate in Rio as recognition of her contribution to the disclosure of the system she herself had been a part of. But this was rejected by the IOC’s Executive Committee, partly with reference to Stepanova’s doping past.


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