News 21st January 2019

IOC accused of hiding evidence that Russian athletes were not doping

Russia’s Ministry of Sport this morning posted a video (below) from Russia 24 accusing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of knowing that its athletes were not doping, and hiding the evidence. The post (this link) was quickly amended to be replaced by a video in which Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s Minister for Sport, states that Russia has met all of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) requirements regarding access to the Moscow Laboratory. Kolobkov gave that interview to TASS last week, as reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative. 

Russia’s Ministry of Sport posted allegations that the IOC had concealed evidence about Russian athletes not doping at the CAS…

However, search engines have recorded the content as originally posted on the Ministry of Sport’s internet site (see right). Russia 24 is produced by the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company which, as the name suggests, is owned by the Russian government, as is TASS. As such, a State Ministry was posting a video from a State broadcaster. Why the post was later changed is not known.

In the video above, Christof Wieschemann, lawyer for Alexander Legkov and Eugene Belov, alleges that the IOC concealed evidence that both skiers had not doped from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). On 18 January, the IOC announced its disappointment that the Swiss Federal Tribunal had rejected its appeal against a CAS decision to uphold the appeal of Legkov against an IOC decision to disqualify him from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and ban him from future editions of the Games.

In an emailed statement, Wieschemann said that the IOC had ‘seriously violated the procedural rights of the athletes and even withheld exculpatory evidence from the defence and the court’. The statement highlights that there ‘is no factual evidence for the allegations made by Dr. Rodchenkov [former Director of the Moscow and Sochi Laboratories] regarding the events in Sochi […] Rather, Rodchenkov himself has become entangled in contradictions and manifest falsehoods in the proceedings.’

The CAS judgment (PDF below) casts doubt on Dr. Rodchenkov’s testimony that Irina Rodionova, Deputy Director of the Centre of Sports Preparation of the National Teams of Russia (CSP) brought Legkov’s urine samples to him as part of the so-called Sochi Plan. ‘Limited weight can be attached to this aspect of Dr. Rodchenkov’s testimony’, concludes the CAS. ‘It is not corroborated by any further evidence, including forensic evidence, and does not provide evidence for the Athlete’s use of a prohibited substance during the Sochi Games’.

It also concludes that Dr. Rodchenkov’s recollection of having swapped Legkov’s urine samples on 23 February 2014 cannot be corroborated. ‘The Panel notes that the records in Dr. Rodchenkov’s diary for that date do not contain any reference to having swapped the Athlete’s sample’, reads the CAS decision. ‘Moreover, Dr. Rodchenkov did not provide any particulars in his diary regarding that alleged swapping. Accordingly, Dr. Rodchenkov’s statement is a bare assertion which is uncorroborated by any contemporaneous documentary evidence. As such, the probative weight of this evidence is limited and the Panel is unable to find based on such evidence that the Athlete committed and ADRV.’

The IOC’s statement suggests that it was aware of these issues and as such, will not be appealing the CAS ruling in the cases of 27 other Russian athletes. ‘It was felt that, even if the chances of winning might not be high, given the specific circumstances of the cases, it was still important to appeal the cases to exhaust all possible avenues in order to protect clean athletes’, it reads. ‘The reasons for the decision to reject the IOC appeal in this case have not yet been disclosed, but since the 28 reasoned decisions by the CAS are similar, the IOC will not proceed with appeals for the remaining 27 cases. The IOC does however reserve the right to reopen these cases should new evidence arise.’

‘Alexander Legkov can rightly claim: “My medals are clean!”’, concludes Wieschemann’s statement. ‘Congratulations!’ The WADA Executive Committee will tomorrow announce its decision on whether the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) should be re-suspended as a result of Russian authorities missing its 31 December deadline to provide access to the Moscow Laboratory.

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