Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said that he would file a lawsuit with the Sports Arbitration Court (CAS) in Lausanne on Tuesday concerning the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to permanently ban him from attending Olympic Games.
"I cannot agree with what is told about Sochi [Winter Olympic Games]," Mutko, who then served as the minister of sports, said, adding that Russia would defend the names of athletes as "we consider and will consider them to be Olympic champions."
According to him, Moscow believes that there were no facts of anti-doping rules' violations by Russian athletes during 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
"I visited the commission [the IOC] […] and asked them to clarify concerning the demands on the state-supported [doping system], which we never had. Athletes are charged based on the testimony and conclusions of one person. In our opinion, not a single fact of violations by Russian athletes in Sochi has been established," Mutko told reporters.
Mutko added that he had suspended activities as the head of the Football Union of Russia (FUR) for the duration of the trial. He noted, however, that temporary suspension of activities in the FUR would not prevent him from continuing to supervise preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
"As regards the issues of cooperation with FIFA and the organizing committee [of the World Cup], as long as President [Vladimir Putin] trusts me, I continue to work as the deputy prime minister and will continue to supervise preparations for the World Cup. Probably, I will return to my position at the FUR even earlier [than in six months]," the official added.
The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided earlier in December to issue a life-long ban for Mutko and former Deputy Minister of Sport Yuri Nagornykh from any participation in all future Olympic Games, and suspend the Russian National Olympic Committee over what it referred to as the "systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system, allowing only clean athletes to compete in the 2018 Games under the Olympic Flag.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the decision "politically motivated," adding that the final decision was "mainly based on the testimony of a person whose moral and ethical attitudes and psychological state raise many questions." Putin said Russia was partially to blame for the situation and called for anyone actually found guilty of violating the IOC's anti-doping rules to be punished, adding that the body used the allegations in a "dishonest" way to issue a blanket ban against the entire national team.
The decision was based on the findings by two commissions established by the IOC: the Disciplinary Commission chaired by Denis Oswald and the Inquiry Commission chaired by Samuel Schmid.
The Oswald Commission retested the samples collected from Russian athletes during the Sochi 2014 Olympics to confirm that alleged doping violations had been committed. As a result, 11 Russians lost their medals, with a number of athletes challenging the accusations of manipulating doping samples in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Russian government has admitted some irregularities but denied state involvement in athletes' alleged doping use.