Russia’s fate at the Tokyo Olympics and other big events is at stake when a four-day hearing opens on Monday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Taking place at a secret location in Lausanne, Switzerland, Russia is appealing a December 2019 ruling from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which declared its agency RUSADA non-compliant again after several post-reinstatement conditions from 2018 were not met in connection with wide-ranging doping accusations.
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics owing to the coronavirus pandemic is allowing all parties a little
more time to decide the issue.
The November 2-5 hearing in Switzerland takes place in person and via video conference amid a strict hygiene concept.
Technically the case is between WADA, which has the power to impose doping-related sanctions, and RUSADA.
Various bodies ranging from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Russian Olympic Committee, the Russian and international ice hockey federations (in connection with the 2023 world championships awarded to St Petersburg) and individual Russian athletes are present as intervening parties.
“WADA has left no stone unturned in preparation for this hearing and we are looking forward to having the opportunity to present our case clearly and fairly to the panel,” WADA president Witold Banka said in a statement late Friday.
“I remain convinced that the WADA executive committee made the right recommendation in this case last December.”
The CAS has said it would issue a ruling “at a later date” with several weeks expected to pass until the verdict.
WADA originally suspended RUSADA in 2015 after revelations of wide-ranging doping practices in the country, including tampering with samples at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, confirmed in two reports by independent investigator Richard McLaren.
RUSADA was reinstated in September 2018, under the condition that WADA inspectors gained access to the Moscow lab and its database for 2012-2015.
Russia granted this but a WADA commission then said that data was “intentionally altered prior to and while
it was being forensically copied by WADA.” As a result of this “blatant breach”, according to then WADA chief Craig Reedie, the latest sanctions were imposed.
Russia has protested its innocence and its Investigative Committee said in December the data was not tampered with, and rather accused Rodchenkov of manipulating it remotely.
RUSADA said the latest sanction was “unfounded, lacked legal basis, contravened fundamental principles of justice and fairness, including basic procedural rights and the rule of law, were contrary to Swiss law and violated the principle of proportionality.”
The IOC has labelled the Russian action “an attack on sport” and “an insult to the sporting movement
It hopes for a “watertight” ruling as it got involved in the case because it is interested that “sanctions are
clear, leave no room for any interpretation and can be applied without any further procedures.”
The IOC was widely criticized when it stopped stopped short of banning Russia as a nation at the Rio 2016 Games (only the athletics team couldn’t compete owing to separate sanctions) after the first McLaren report.
But the IOC imposed such a sanction for the duration of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics where Russians had to compete as neutrals without their flag, anthem and other symbols.