The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has been criticized for making “craven and spineless” decisions after life ban given to Russian athletes were overturned.
British International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, Adam Pengilly, said he was “appalled and angry” after CAS overturned the suspension of 28 Russians for doping, and partially upheld 11 other appeals.
“It is a desperate and dark day for sport, with cheats and thieves allowed to triumph, CAS has failed here.”
“We need to take a long, hard look at sport’s leading administrators and sport’s legal system when we see the greatest fraud at an Olympic Games and years of institutional doping conspiracy pass by with only minor punishment.
“The silent and clean majority are being made to suffer through having to attain a ridiculous burden of proof and by the craven and spineless decisions of those who lead,” said Pengilly.
Last year, 43 Russians were banned for life following the findings of World Anti-Doping Agency’s McLaren report, leading to an IOC investigation into state-sponsored doping at Sochi Games in 2014.
“They now think that you are better off cheating or getting your Nation to establish a doping system because even if it is discovered, the consequences are minimal. Or, if you don’t want to cheat, avoid elite sport like the plague.”
Pengilly also lamented that, “When McLaren and the Oswald Commission regard Rodchenkov’s evidence as credible and truthful, and it is backed up by forensic evidence, yet CAS obviously don’t accept it, what more do you have to do?”
Trade of blames
Rodchenko’s lawyers criticised the decision, stating “clean sport is dead”.
The IOC said the decision by CAS “may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping”, while the US Anti-Doping Agency focused the blame on the IOC, calling the situation a “sorry mess”.
Its Chief Executive, Travis Tygart, said: “The IOC’s failure to swiftly and decisively deal with Russia’s unprecedented attack on fair play has eroded public trust in the values of the Olympic movement.
“Slamming dozens of cases through the process on the eve of the Olympic Games has not served justice and as such the integrity of the Games has been sabotaged.
“The whole sorry mess truly stinks and the nightmare continues for clean athletes, this must change.”
Why the change of heart?
According to CAS, it considered testimonies from experts including former Russian anti-doping official and whistleblower, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov and Canadian lawyer Professor Richard McLaren, who authored the 2016 report of doping in Russia.
It also said evidence was “insufficient” to prove doping in 28 cases, though the IOC insisted the ruling did not mean the athletes would be invited to this month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where 169 of ‘clean Russians’ are being allowed to compete as neutrals after the country was officially banned.
Russia’s sports Minister, Pavel Kolobkov, said “justice has finally triumphed”, insisting those who were accused of doping were “clean athletes”.
CAS said its mandate was not to “determine generally whether there was an organised scheme allowing the manipulation of doping control samples in the Sochi laboratory” but it was “strictly limited to dealing with 39 individual cases and to assess the evidence applicable to each athlete on an individual basis”.
Its Secretary General, Matthieu Reeb, also iterated that there was only “circumstantial evidence” that supported individual claims of doping.
“It is a matter where there is no direct evidence, such as positive test or a voluntary admission.
“This does not mean that the 28 athletes are declared innocent, but due to insufficient evidence the appeals are upheld, the sanctions annulled and their results in Sochi are reinstated,” he added.
Meanwhile, World Anti-Doping Agency President, Sir Craig Reedie, has expressed “serious concerns” about CAS decision.