IOC to Challenge Russian Doping Cases at Swiss Supreme Court

The International Olympic Committee plans to appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court against rulings which cleared some Russian athletes of doping at the Sochi Games.

The Olympic body is “unsatisfied both by the decision and the motivation” of verdicts by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Thursday on the sidelines of an executive board meeting.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal — also based in Lausanne — can overturn CAS verdicts if legal process was abused, though appeals rarely succeed.

Days before the Pyeongchang Olympics opened in February, two CAS judging panels upheld appeals of 28 Russian athletes against IOC sanctions. CAS said the IOC’s investigations did not prove doping offences, while also stressing the 28 were not formally declared innocent of taking part in orchestrated cheating.

The verdicts irritated Olympic leaders who believed the sports court applied the burden of proof of a criminal case. Sports law in a civil court like CAS typically requires cases to be proven to the “comfortable satisfaction” of judges.

A further 11 Russians lost their appeals at CAS, which confirmed their disqualifications from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The Russian athletes’ urgent appeals to CAS followed a slew of IOC disciplinary hearings late last year to process the cases before the Pyeongchang Games, where some hoped to compete.

The IOC had disqualified 43 Russians from their Sochi Olympics results for doping offenses. Those cases sought to verify allegations and evidence presented by World Anti-Doping Agency-appointed investigator Richard McLaren and Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of testing laboratories in Moscow and Sochi.

In one detailed verdict published two weeks ago, the CAS judges found flaws in the evidence-gathering and conclusions of the two star witnesses. Rodchenkov testified from a secret location in the United States, where he is in the witness protection program.

A 154-page document detailed why a three-man CAS panel upheld the appeal of cross-country skier Alexander Legkov. He was reinstated as the gold medalist in the 50-kilometer freestyle race and the silver medalist in the 4×10-kilometer relay from the Sochi Games.