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IOC to take Russian doping cases to Swiss court

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today (Thursday) confirmed it will appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision to overturn or reduce doping bans given to 28 Russian athletes at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

The IOC had warned of such action when CAS made its initial ruling ahead of the 2018 winter Olympic Games. On February 1, CAS overturned lifetime bans imposed on 28 Russian athletes by the IOC, along with partially upholding the appeals of a further 11 athletes, citing “insufficient” evidence for the sanctions.

Following the investigation performed by Professor Richard McLaren regarding the manipulation of anti-doping procedures during Sochi 2014, the IOC found 43 Russian athletes to have committed anti-doping rule violations during the Games, disqualifying them from the events in which they participated in Sochi and forfeiting all medals won by them. 

The athletes were also declared ineligible to participate in any capacity in all subsequent editions of the Olympic Games. At the end of December, all but one of the athletes, bobsledder Maxim Belugin, filed an appeal at the CAS.

With respect to the 28 athletes, their appeals were upheld, the sanctions annulled and their individual results achieved in Sochi 2014 reinstated. In 11 cases, the evidence collected was found to be sufficient to establish an individual anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). The IOC decisions in these matters were confirmed, with one exception – the athletes were declared ineligible for Pyeongchang 2018 instead of receiving a life ban from all Olympic Games.

Those whose sanctions were fully overturned included cross-country ski gold medallist Alexander Legkov. The 11 whose appeals were partially rejected came from men’s bobsled, women’s cross-country skiing and women’s ice hockey. They included two-time bobsled gold medallist Aleksandr Zubkov.

CAS said at the time that the evidence put forward by the IOC “did not have the same weight in each individual case” regarding Legkov and Zubkov. “We are unsatisfied with the decision and the motivation and we will be appealing,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams (pictured) said today, according to the Reuters news agency. 

Adams added that the IOC will enter further appeals at the Swiss Federal Tribunal once CAS starts to publish detailed reasons for clearing the Russians athletes of any wrongdoing.

In other news, the IOC has announced that the PyeongChang Organising Committee (POCOG) recorded a balanced budget of $2.4bn (€1.99bn) for the 2018 Games, which included an additional $400m in costs that are not normally considered as an organising committee’s budget responsibility. 

Due to POCOG’s successful revenue and marketing programme, PyeongChang 2018 delivered the Games in line with its $2bn bid budget. POCOG president Lee Hee-beom has previously referenced the possibility of a surplus when the books are officially closed.