Editor's note: This is the fourth part/act of our blog series on the Russian eligibility cases at the CAS ad hoc Division in Rio.
Act IV: On
Bringing a sport into disrepute
Paragraph 2 of the IOC Decision: “The IFs will also have to apply their
respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs.”
In paragraph 2 of its Decision,
the IOC mentioned the possibility for IFs to “apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire
NF's”.This is exactly what the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) did
when it decided on 29 July 2016 to exclude the whole Russian Weightlifting
Federation (RWF) from the Rio Olympics for having brought the sport into
disrepute. Indeed, Article 12. 4 of the IWF Anti-doping Policy, foresees that:
“If any Member
federation or members or officials thereof, by reason of conduct connected with
or associated with doping or anti-doping rule violations, brings the sport of
weightlifting into disrepute, the IWF Executive Board may, in its discretion,
take such action as it deems fit to protect the reputation and integrity of the
The Russian Federation first
disputed, to no avail, that there was sufficient legal basis in the IWF
regulations for such a blanket ban. The Panel found that “Article 12.4 ADP
constitutes a sufficient legal basis”.
Moreover, it added that the “power of the IWF Executive Board, in its
discretion, to take such action as it deems fit to protect the reputation and
integrity of the sport, was not challenged by RWF”.
subsequently two main questions related to application of Article 12.4 ADP to
- Based on the
information available, could the IWF reasonably conclude that there was a
“conduct connected with or associated with doping”?
- And, was it sufficient to “bring the sport of
weightlifting into disrepute”?
First, the CAS Panel notes that in
assessing whether there was a “conduct connected with or associated with
doping”, IWF “referred to various sources of information”.
It relied on the IP Report that “submits that 117 Russian weightlifters were
included in this centrally dictated program”
and “on the results from the retesting of the London and Beijing Olympics”,
which “turned out nine AAFs for Russian weightlifters”.
The Panel held that this “information constitutes "conduct connected
with or associated with doping"” that “on its face is sufficiently reliable”. Indeed, it reminds that the IP Report
applied a standard of proof of “beyond reasonable doubt”. Furthermore, the Panel
adds that “the findings of the McLaren Report were taken seriously by the IOC
and lead to the IOC Executive Board's decision dated 24 July 216 that enacted
eligibility criteria specifically for Russian athletes, which is unique in the
history of the Olympic Games” and “were endorsed by WADA, the supreme
authority in the world of sport to lead and coordinate the fight against doping
and by other international federations, such as the IAAF”. Finally, “the information contained in the
Mclaren Report is also corroborated by the reanalysis of the athlete's samples
at the London and Beijing Olympics”. The fact that all nine Russian athletes
retested were all positive for the same substance, Turniabol, is deemed “a
strong indication that they were part of a centrally dictated program”.
Are these findings enough to bring
weightlifting into disrepute? For the Panel, disrepute “refers to loss of
reputation or dishonour”.
It concluded that “the IWF's conclusion that the above facts bring the sport of
weightlifting in disrepute is neither incompatible with the applicable
provisions nor arbitrary”.
The Russian doping scandal is “one of the biggest doping scandals in sports
history”, and “paired with the findings from the retesting of samples led the
IWF to consider that the actions of the RWF and the Russian weightlifters
brought the sport of weightlifting into disrepute, because it draws a picture
of this sport as being doping infested”.
Thus, the CAS arbitrators consider that “the Applicant has failed to
demonstrate that the IWF's conclusion that, based on the evidence before it,
the conduct of the RWF brought the sport of weightlifting in disrepute, was
Lastly, the RWF brought forward
the much-used ‘we were not the only ones!’ argument. Indeed, it highlighted
that the “retesting of the London and Beijing samples has not only resulted in
AAFs [Adverse Analytical Findings or positive doping test] for Russian
athletes, but also revealed AAFs for other member federations”.
Yet, the Panel rebuked this argument by stating “that the situation in Russian
weightlifting is - apparently - of a different dimension”, as it “has not been
reported nor submitted that other member federations are involved in a
centrally dictated and managed doping program”.
In this regard, it notes “the impressive number of 61 Russian weightlifters
benefitted from the Disappearing Positive Methodology” and the fact “that the
whole Russian delegation for the London Olympics was - according to the
information provided - involved in doping”.
Once again, an IF taking a strong
stance and barring the whole Russian team to participate in the Rio Olympics is
vindicated by the CAS.