On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) released its much awaited decision that lifted Olympic doping bans for 28 Russian athletes, citing insufficient evidence to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV).
Following the McLaren report in 2016 with respect to the manipulation of anti-doping procedures during the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014, the Disciplinary Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) found 43 Russian athletes to have committed anti-doping rule violations and, as such, were disqualified by the events they had participated in and forfeited all medals. Furthermore, the athletes were declared ineligible to participate in any capacity in all subsequent editions of the Olympic Games. At the end of December 2017, almost all athletes filed an appeal at the CAS.
In 28 cases, the CAS panels found that there was no sufficient evidence to establish an ADVR and as a result “the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 are reinstated.”
In 11 cases, the decision of the IOC was deemed confirmed as evidence collected was found to be sufficient to establish an individual ADRV. However, contrary to the original IOC decision these 11 athletes are declared ineligible for 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang instead of banned for life from all Olympic Games.
The ruling of the Court underlines that it was not its mandate to “determine generally whether there was an organized scheme allowing the manipulation of doping control samples in the Sochi laboratory” but instead was call upon to rule on these 39 individual cases.
The decision stirred much controversy with IOC President Thomas Bach calling it “extremely disappointing and surprising”. He further added on Sunday that the IOC did not expect this decision, and only demonstrates the urgent need for reforms in the internal structure of CAS.
The IOC has invited 169 Russians to compete in PyeongChang as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under a neutral flag, but IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Saturday that IOC reserves the right to review and appeal the CAS decision.