CAS dismisses IOC’s blanket ban of athletes with past doping sanctions as ‘unenforceable’

© Denis Balibouse
The international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne has ruled that some of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s criteria for Russian athletes to participate at the Rio games are "unenforceable" as they do not respect the right of natural justice.

Two Russian rowers, Anastasia Karabelshikova and Ivan Podshivalov have won their appeal against an IOC ban from the Rio Olympics on the grounds that they had already served suspensions over past doping accusations.

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The case has been sent back to the International Rowing Federation (FISA) to render their decision “without delay.”

“The IOC Decision deprives the Russian athletes of the presumption of innocence and rather establishes a presumption of guilt, but one that is rebuttable by the athletes on an individual basis,” the court ruling said, referring to paragraph three of the IOC Executive Board decision of July 24, 2016.

The controversial paragraph said that the Russian Olympic Committee “is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction.”

This wording, CAS ruled, “contains a simple, unqualified and absolute criterion” which is difficult to reconcile with the “stated aim to provide the athletes with an opportunity to rebut the presumption of guilt and to recognise the right to natural justice.”

Therefore the rowers’ appeal has been “partially” upheld on “limited” grounds, with the court urging FISA to “determine their eligibility or not, without delay”, pursuant to the criteria listed in paragraph two of the IOC decision.

A similar ruling has been rendered in the case of Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, whose appeal has also been partially upheld.

The CAS ruling against the clause of the IOC decision, which deprived athletes of the presumption of innocence and rather established a presumption of guilt, could open the way for appeals from “a dozen” Russian competitors, said the court’s secretary general Matthieu Reeb, according to Reuters.

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