17 July 2018

Zubkov considering challenge to IOC ban outside of sport’s arbitration system

Alexander Zubkov, who was recently re-elected as President of Russian Bobsled Federation (OBP), is considering a challenge to a doping sanction outside of sport’s arbitration system, in an attempt to prove his innocence. Zubkov was prohibited from participating in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics after physiologically impossible levels of salt were found in a sample given at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. He was initially sanctioned with a life ban by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), however this was reduced to a ban from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics upon appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Due to the physiologically impossible salt levels in his sample, the CAS Panel found it was ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Zubkov had committed two violations of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code, including use of a Prohibited Substance and a Prohibited Method. Whilst this meant that Russia lost gold medals won in the two and four man bobsled at Sochi 2014, the Panel found that a life ban from the Olympics ‘is not appropriate in relation to the seriousness of the individual ADRVs’.

Zubkov continues to protest his innocence. Whilst sport’s rules mandate that appeals against CAS decisions are only possible through the Swiss Federal Tribunal, he argues that pursuing that avenue of appeal is pointless.

“I received the medals honestly and continue to insist on this”, he told Match TV in an interview published on the OBP internet site. “To file an appeal with the Swiss Federal Court is useless. I took this decision after consulting with lawyers. The Swiss Court considers only procedural irregularities, and those are not the essence of the charges against me […] I am aware that the IOC still appealed. They may have found some other evidence. We shall see later. For our part, we are considering another legal way. I do not need the recognition that the process was conducted properly, but proof of my innocence.”

Zubkov cites an 11 July letter from the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (IBSF) as proof that that his sport is comfortable with his tenure as OBP President, despite his IOC sanction. ‘The International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation would like to state that the President of the Bobsleigh Federation of Russia, Mr. Alexander Zubkov, has proven to be a very good leader of the Federation over the past 24 months’, reads the letter from IBSF President Ivo Ferriani, published by InsideTheGames. ‘Though the time was very difficult for him and the Federation financially as well as politically, I can confirm that he was very proactive in solving problems and cooperative in any matters arising. His way of approaching difficulties and facing challenges is most effective and very diplomatic. He represented his Federation as a President on the international level, he is well respected and accepted by the IBSF’s Member Federations.’ 

Anatoly Pegov and Oleg Sokolov, Zubkov’s former coach, withdrew their rival candidacies, arguing that the election was illegitimate. However, the OBP claimed that they had not gathered enough support.

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