Winter Olympics 2018: Appeal by 45 Russian athletes against doping bans rejected by Court of Arbitration for Sport

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Winter Olympic 2018

Winter Olympics 2018: 45 Russian athletes appeal against doping bans – Court of Arbitration for Sport rejects it.

Numerous medal aspirants were stopped from Pyeongchang Olympics for supposedly using performance enhancing drugs (PED) at Sochi Games, 2014.

Backed by the Independent Sport Agency, Victor Ahn is among the 46 Russian athletes who were rejected even after many appeals.

Russia was fighting desperately to include its medal aspirants in to the Pyeongchang Olympics but couldn’t succeed even before Friday’s inaugural ceremony.

Taking a serious turn, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prohibited Russia as they were a big part of the extreme doping at Sochi Games, 2014.  However, individual Russian athletes got an opportunity for admission to participate under the title ‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’.  168 Russian athletes passed the crucial screening test.  Many of the banned athletes repeatedly appealed to the ‘Court of Arbitration for Sports’ (CAS).

On Friday, the CAS agreed with the IOC’s decision of right to entry of Russian athletes.

Officials who conduct anti-doping tests appreciated this stance against the Russians and it surely is a heavy blow to any medals for the country.  Spokesman and a delegate for the event, Mr. Konstantin Vybornov exclaimed, ‘That’s it.  The story is over’!

The ‘Court of Arbitration for Sports’ praised the panelists’ decision in evaluating the eligibility criteria of the Russian applicants. The CAS further re-assured that the commissions have not resolved to any form of ‘discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair means’ in banning Russian athletes.

Mr. Matthieu Reeb, CAS General Secretary clarified enough and further rejected to answer questions. He added that IOC’s process “could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision’.

The IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wholeheartedly accepted the decision.  IOC opined that the decision ‘supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes’.  In responding to the statement, WADA President, Mr. Craig Reedie exclaimed ‘absolutely correct!’.

South Korean local fans were eagerly looking forward to welcoming six-time gold medalist, the short track speed skater, Viktor Ahn to play in his native place, South Korea in the prestigious Olympics.  But he is excluded and this has disappointed the fans.  Ultimatum is that IOC has banned Russia from competing in the Winter Olympics, 2018.

A gold medalist in the Cross-country skiing, Alexander Legkov and the gold medalist in Skeleton event, Alexander Tretiakov,   are out of the games.   The promising medal contenders for the Baithlon, Luge and Bobsled too are out of the competition.

The appeals of the former three NHL players – Sergie Plontikov, Anton Belov and Valeri Nichushkin too have been banned.  They would either ways not have participated as the Russian roster is already full.

‘A small glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark and sordid affair’ is how Chief Executive Mr. Travis Tygart, the US Anti-doping agency, expressed.

Mr.Tygart, in his opinion questioned IOC asking ‘and why the IOC refused the process on the Sochi medal decisions is unexplainable and a tragedy for clean athletes’.  On similar lines, he also questioned that how some of the Sochi winners are allowed to keep the medals but yet are excluded in this games, that is hard to reconcile, and has justice prevailed?  It’s time to put ones’ heads down and go leaving this particular issue behind.

The IOC’s screening process was strategically planned to exclude Russian athletes from the games.  If not for only doping tests, the IOC were not very clear and sure that the Russian participants were clean in other aspects.

‘The Olympic Athletes from Russia’ will participate in not any specific uniforms, but neutral uniforms and not under specific flag, but the Olympic flag as decided to provide rights to individual aspirant athletes.  They need to pass strict tests to emerge clean and be able to participate.

Beyond these, the IOC has refused to interfere or intervene in individual Russian athletes but yet, it will decide the players depending on the fresh database, with evidence, it will obtain from Moscow Laboratory for the past doping offences of individuals.

Apart from 45 participants, the panel banned a Luge and a Skeleton coach too.

IOC proves to be superior when it refused to clear some Russians even after CAS approved to include some of them from 2014 last week.

An International Sports Lawyer, based in Colorado Springs, Stephen Hess, applauded IOC for the above victorious decision.

In a telephonic interview, Hess announced that ‘There is no absolute right to get an invitation form the IOC to come to the Olympics.  That was within the IOC’s discretion, and they didn’t exercise it arbitrarily.  If Russia had an Olympic team, CAS might have said – “IOC, the Russians can put them on their own team.  You can’t keep them out.  But Russia doesn’t have an Olympic team’.

The lawyer, Jim Walden for Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower, exercised fresh calls on IOC President Tomas Bach to resign from the post ‘for the sake of Olympics ideals’.

Jim Walden targeted the IOC and CAS of being ‘complicit in enabling Russian doping’  and accuse them for not bringing in severe punishment for defaulters and all included in the act.  The verdict that was released on Friday is ‘a small semblance of justice for clean athletes’ he said.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower exposed the scale of malpractice that is rampant in Russia.  Angela Ruggiero from the IOC, ‘athletes’ commission’ opined that there is good clarity for all competitors to be clean.

Angela Ruggiero’s message is clear.  It says ‘The message we are sending to athletes now is that the decision has been made.  You should be incredibly confident that every athlete, including the Olympic Athletes from Russia, has had to clear incredibly high hurdles to get here.’

US participants too appreciated the decision of putting an end to the uncertainty around the participating Russian athletes.

Katie Uhlaender, US women’s Skeleton athlete said ‘That is great news’.  She had stood fourth in the Sochi Olympics, one place below Bronze medalist Elena Nikitina, who is one of the 45 athletes who have been banned.

Nick Cunningham, US Blobsledder’s focus is entirely different and it surely is not on the ‘will-they-or-will-they-not’ drama around the Russians.

Cheerfully, Cunningham said that ‘If dirty athletes are taken out, then clean athletes will prevail.  That’s what I hope’.