Russia’s sporting future at stake as CAS hearing starts on Monday

Russia’s sporting future is at stake in a four-day hearing which starts in Switzerland on Monday.

The World Anti-Doping Agency declared the country’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, non-compliant with its code in December last year over alleged manipulation of laboratory data.

It imposed a series of sanctions, including a four-year ban on Russian teams competing in international events such as the Tokyo and Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, and a bar on Russia hosting such international events over the same period.

RUSADA appealed against the decision declaring them non-compliant and the sanctions imposed to the CAS.

A media release from the CAS earlier this week said the appeal had been lodged “on the basis that (the sanctions) were 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.”

Each side has chosen one of the judges on the panel of three, who must then agree on a panel president – in this case Australia’s Mark Williams.

The laboratory data which WADA found to have been altered when compared to a copy of it provided by a whistleblower in 2017 covered a period between January 2012 and August 2015.

The data was handed over by the Russian authorities in January of last year, and had been one of the conditions of the country’s reinstatement to compliance in September 2018.

WADA President Witold Banka said: “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.

“I remain convinced that the WADA Executive Committee made the right recommendation in this case last December. As at every other stage, we are following due process in relation to RUSADA’s compliance procedure as we continue to deal effectively with this complex matter.”

Russia’s national anti-doping agency RUSADA was first declared non-compliant in November 2015.

At first the doping scandal centred around track and field, but widened out to include other sports as further investigations were conducted.

An independent inquiry led by Professor Richard McLaren in 2016 found that “state-sponsored” and “systematic” doping had occurred across multiple sports.

Russian athletes were not banned outright from the 2016 Rio Olympics, instead individual international federations had to vet competitors and declare whether they were considered clean.

The new sanctions WADA announced in December 2019 allowed exemptions for athletes if they could prove they were not implicated in the manipulated data, but they would not be able to compete under the Russian flag.

The CAS panel’s decision in the case will be announced at a later date, not at the end of the four-day hearing.


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