Lawyer reveals flawed reasoning behind ban on individual Russian skiers

In a detailed blog post, the lawyer of Russian Olympic skiers Aleksandr Legkov & Yevgeny Belov revealed inconsistencies behind the decision by the International Ski Federation to uphold their ban based on broad allegations in the McLaren Report.

On December 22, the International Ski Federation (FIS) cited a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) under the direction of law professor Richard McLaren in its decision to suspend several Russian athletes who competed in the Sochi Olympics, including Legkov and Belov.

Christof Wieschemann, the lawyer representing the two Russian skiers, said in a statement on Wednesday that the FIS had informed him that the ban would be upheld, despite one of the three members of the panel disagreeing with the decision.

Wieschemann’s post then outlined the arguments of the dissident FIS panelist, starting with the point that McLaren had overstepped his authority.

“Richard McLaren was not ordered by WADA to investigate towards single athletes but to deliver evidence that a systematic working system has been established in Russia to enable doping and to conceal systematic doping,” the letter read. “No matter if his results were true or not, the outcome was neither intended nor eligible to be used on single athletes.”

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The panelist then pointed out some inconsistencies in the WADA report.

“The documents do not show any names but codes which allegedly refer to individual athletes,” the statement said. “However, the defense could make evident that the same code is used in various documents for different individuals in different sports disciplines which are typically not part of the Olympic Winter Games.”

The text of the documents is confusing as a result. Belov and Legkov seem to take part in events where they were not actually present. In addition, the post points out both Legkov and Belov were extensively tested for doping and found negative each time, and there is no evidence that either athlete had knowledge of or benefited from the alleged probe tampering.

Speaking to RT earlier in the month, Wieschemann said that the McLaren Report was riddled with errors.

“Evgeny Belov is mentioned for two competitions in which he did not participate,” he said in the interview, adding that there were “no less than ten faulty records in different [McLaren Report] lists.”

“I do not think it is a minor error, it’s a big bug I found out,” Wieschemann said.

In December, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission, headed by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, delivered the second part of its report, which claimed that over 1,000 Russian athletes competing in the Summer, Winter, and Paralympic games could have been involved in the manipulation system to conceal positive doping tests.

Following its publication, the FIS suspended six Russian skiers, including Belov and Legkov. Four Russian skeleton athletes were also provisionally suspended from competing by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) but their suspensions were lifted on January 8 as the federation found no sufficient evidence for the ban.