Suspensions should not be re-imposed on Russian Bobsled Federation president Alexandr Zubkov and top skeleton athlete Aleksandr Tretiakov, according to the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) doping hearing panel.
The three-person panel said that the testimony of former Moscow and Sochi laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov – relied upon by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to impose widespread sanctions on Russian athletes for the 2018 winter Olympic Games – may have violated international law.
"Not hearing Dr Rodchenkov before a proper Disciplinary Commission or Hearing Panel instead of exclusively before McLaren is convincingly probable to be successfully contested before a Court as being not compatible with the principles of international law," the doping panel wrote. The panel said that it is not questioning the credibility of the McLaren report, which the IOC used to impose the sanctions.
The IBSF panel said that suspending Zubkov (pictured) and Tretiakov — who combined to win three gold medals at the 2014 Games in Sochi before they were stripped — “would be clearly unfair”.
The IBSF provisionally suspended the duo following the IOC’s decision, but those bans were then lifted and the independent panel’s decision is blocking those bans from being reinstated. In an intriguing twist, the IBSF executive committee will challenge the decision by the panel in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Both Zubkov and Tretiakov will remain banned from future Olympic Games by the IOC.