The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has overturned a one-year ban handed out to the Belarus senior men’s canoe and kayak teams by the International Canoe Federation (ICF), a punishment which meant the team missed out on competing at the 2016 summer Olympic Games.
The CAS case was brought forward by the Belarus Canoe Association (BCA) and members of the senior men’s canoe and kayak team. The appeal was directed against the ICF Executive Committee’s decision of July 15 in which it imposed a one-year suspension covering all international competitions for alleged multiple anti-doping rule violations.
In April 2016, a training camp held in Le Temple-sur-Lot, France, was raided by French police and customs officials who confiscated various substances, medication, material and medical equipment. In addition, 17 athletes from the Belarus canoe team underwent doping controls and meldonium was found in the samples provided by five of the athletes.
The ICF elected to impose the ban in the wake of the incident. The suspension was initially challenged by the appellants on July 18, an appeal which included a request for a stay of execution on the decision but was rejected as it did not address the criteria set out in the CAS rules.
However, following a hearing which took place on November 7, CAS has now elected to overturn the punishment handed out by the ICF. CAS said in a statement: “On the basis of the evidence and arguments submitted by the parties, the CAS Panel found that there was insufficient evidence to uphold several of the alleged anti-doping rule violations.
“Accordingly, in the absence of multiple anti-doping rule violations, the Panel found that there was no justification to uphold the imposition of a one-year ban on the Belarus senior men’s canoe and kayak teams and decided to set aside the decision taken by the ICF Executive Committee.”
Belarus missed Rio 2016 having won two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics in men’s canoe sprint. The ICF is yet to responded to the CAS ruling issued yesterday (Monday).