On Thursday the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) has overturned the lifetime ban of 28 athletes from Russia who were suspected of doping. Sport’s highest tribunal had found that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to carry out the bans that the IOC (International Olympic Committee).
The IOC issued the ban in December last year stating that the systematic doping by the nation was unbelievable and was the worst case since the notorious East German doping scandals from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.
Their own prolonged investigations found that Russia had been participating in a nation-backed doping program. The punishment was that Russia as a whole was banned from the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea starting on February 9th and 28 Russian athletes were banned for life and stripped of any medals or titles they had.
With the insufficient evidence found, all 28 Russian athlete’s bans were lifted and their accommodations returned. However Russia is still banned from the upcoming Olympics.
Any Russian athletes that wish to compete will have to do so as a neutral, wearing a neutral uniform with no flag or national anthem being played at the opening ceremony. On top of that they aren’t guaranteed an invitation. The 28 athletes if they wish to compete will have to apply for a late entry and hope for acceptance.
CAS mentioned that while the Russians did not show systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system, the IOC disagrees that they didn’t take it fully into consideration. Excluding the 28 athletes, 11 more were found of the systematic manipulation and CAS stated that there was a doping problem at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
CAS stated that their role in this debacle was to assess the 39 individual cases for doping on an individual level and not determine whether there was an organised manipulation of doping samples.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President welcomes the ruling stating that it brings the nation and himself joy. Putin also claimed that it confirms that the majority of Russia’ athletes are clean. Russia is focused on perfecting their anti-doping policy and programme, working very closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Pushing to get their clean athletes back into the Winter Olympic scene, Russia’s sports minister Pavel Kolobkov stated that they would be speaking to the IOC to ask for permission for their athletes to gain entry.
Currently there have been a total of 43 Russian athletes that were banned by the IOC. 3 more are still waiting with their appeals while the bobsledder, Maxim Belugin, who was one of the 11 banned in December, has not appealed the allegations.