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    IOC Decisions Against Russian Athletes Illegal From the Start - Expert

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    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided not to invite 13 Russian athletes and two coaches who were acquitted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described the decision by the IOC to ban athletes, who were reinstated by the CAS, as unethical and politically motivated, adding that "the IOC has vandalized both the Olympic Charter and basic principles of law."

    Physiologist Pierre Sallet, an internationally recognized French expert on the battle against doping and president of the Athletes For Transparency (AFT) association, echoed Medvedev's remarks in an interview with Sputnik, saying that the committee's collective sanctions policy contradicts the rules of law.

    "Justice in the anti-doping fight rests upon individual penalties. Collective sanctions are poorly worked out, so each case should have been examined separately. I believe that the decision on sanctions against a number of athletes contravenes legal provisions," Sallet said.

    "The abrogation of the [IOC's] decisions in a large number of cases by the judge of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who is a legal expert, is reasonable, because the decisions regarding those athletes have been illegal from the start."

    Sallet told Sputnik that the case against Russia has been handled badly from the very beginning, as several bodies, including the IOC, violated legal norms instead of adhering to them and amending legal statutes to avoid similar problems in the future.

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    "Under all circumstances, [the authorities] should have applied individual sanctions, but we see that some of the sanctions [used against Russian athletes] are not individual."

    The CAS earlier upheld appeals by 28 Russian athletes who had received a permanent ban from participation in the Olympics. Sanctions against them were lifted and all their rewards from the Sochi Olympics were returned.

    "The evidence put forward by the IOC in relation to this matter did not have the same weight in each individual case. In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation was committed by the athletes concerned," the CAS statement said.

    The Russian Olympic Committee asked the IOC to send invitations to 15 athletes from the list of those acquitted, but the Olympic Committee refused.

    "We currently see a lot of emotion when it comes to battling doping, while we should focus on following the rules," Sallet told Sputnik. "The more attention you pay to the rules, the higher the chance that you will make a fair decision."

    He cautioned that no premature judgment should be made with regard to the recent leak of a database containing the results of more than 10,000 blood tests from 2,000 winter sports stars. The documents reveal that a third of all medals — including 91 golds — were won by skiers who recorded suspicious test results during the Olympics and world championships since 2001, according to The Sunday Times.

    The logo of Russian Olympic team is seen on the uniform designed by ZASPORT, the official clothing supplier for national athletes competing in 2018 Winter Olympics, during its presentation in Moscow, Russia January 22, 2018
    © REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov
    The logo of Russian Olympic team is seen on the uniform designed by ZASPORT, the official clothing supplier for national athletes competing in 2018 Winter Olympics, during its presentation in Moscow, Russia January 22, 2018

    "You always have to be careful with these kinds of things," Sallet warned. "Indeed, [the results] seem abnormal in a number of cases, but we shouldn't allow a mistake, we have to examine each case individually, taking into account various factors: the athletes' whereabouts, if they were taking any medications and what they were. It is not all about numbers. We shouldn't accuse an athlete of doping based exclusively on the numbers… We must be careful with the information that we get."

    According to the expert, the vicious circle can be broken only with political and legal reform. The authorities have made no changes in the system since the scandal surrounding Russian athletes broke out, which means similar cases will continue to happen in the future.

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    "Indeed, the system should be reconsidered. It is already on its last breath. Anti-doping scandals continue to occur, and every time they say it was the last time, that it will not happen again. But nothing will change if there is no change on the institutional level… Political and legal aspects [with regard to doping] are lagging," Sallet concluded.


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    doping, 2018 Winter Olympics, CAS, IOC, Pyeongchang, Russia
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