6th March 2018

IOC declines to comment on apparent error in Zaytseva sanction

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has declined to comment on an apparent error in its decision to sanction Russian biathlete Olga Zaytseva, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has yet to rule on her appeal. ‘Given that the Athlete was not in the Duchess List, she was not subject to particular scrutiny during the investigation of Prof. Maclaren [sic.], this explains that the EDP and Dossier of Evidence of the Athlete do not include specific elements’, reads paragraph 149 of the decision (PDF below). However, in the concluding paragraphs (341) of the same decision, the IOC writes: ‘The Athlete is one of the athletes listed on the Duchess List. For the reasons explained above, the Disciplinary Commission already draws a decisive inference from this element alone.’

Zaytseva is one of three Russian biathletes who has filed a defamation lawsuit against Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Director of the Moscow and Sochi 2014 laboratories. It is understood that each of the three athletes is seeking US$10 million in damages, after being stripped of Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic relay gold medals. The above decision in Zaytseva’s case reveals Dr. Rodchenkov claimed ‘that the entire Russian biathlete team, including the Athlete Zaytseva, ha[d] been using the Duchess Cocktail before the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014’. 

The ‘Duchess cocktail’ involved three steroids – metenolone, oxandrolone and trenbolone – dissolved in alcohol to speed up absorption and shorten the detection period. Such athletes were ‘protected’ from reporting positive doping tests at Sochi 2014 through the ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology’, whereby their samples would be exchanged for clean urine collected in advance of the Games.

When it upheld appeals from 28 Russian athletes against the IOC’s attempt to sanction them with Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) committed at Sochi 2014, the CAS postponed hearings into the cases of all three biathletes. A reason for the postponement was not given and a date for the hearings has yet to be announced.

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