Russian Paralympian wins court case against German newspaper over doping claims
Russian six-time Paralympic champion Mikhalina Lysova has won a court case against German newspaper Bild, which called her “the Russian who takes doping” on the eve of the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
In the article published several days before the start of the Paralympic Games, the German paper groundlessly accused the athlete of doping, insisting that Lysova takes prohibited performance-enhancing drugs.
“Paralympic scandal! Russian athlete who takes doping may travel to PyeongChang,” the outlet wrote.
Lysova was not initially included in the list of approved Russians competing under the name of ‘Neutral Paralympic Athletes’ (NPA) in South Korea. But several days before the opening ceremony, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) granted Lysova Paralympic entry, declaring her eligible to compete in PyeongChang.
Following Lysova’s approval for the Games, Bild again questioned the fairness of her invitation, citing the controversial McLaren report, which contained the athlete’s name among others.
“Do the Paralympics have a doping problem? Again, the Russians play the negative role,” the article said.
“The day before yesterday (March 6) they applied for the subsequent nomination of Mikhalina Lysova, 25, a visually-impaired cross-country skier. Her name was indicated in the McLaren report, which proved state doping in Russia. Nevertheless, the International Paralympic Committee gave her the green light to participate.”
The Russian para-athlete, who has never been implicated in doping, asked the German paper to delete the article which in her view contained insults, slander and defamation. However, Lysova’s requests were refused, prompting her to open legal proceedings against the outlet in Hamburg district court.
The court upheld Lysova’s suit, obliging Bild to delete the article which could have tarnished the athlete’s reputation.
“The fact that the Bild newspaper called Ms Lysova ‘the Russian who takes doping’ in the article viewed in the case strongly indicates violation of Ms Lesova’s rights,” the court ruled, the Russian Paralympic Committee reported.
“In this regard Bild, which headlined the article in question in such a provocative way, is prohibited from now on from calling Ms Lysova ‘the Russian who takes doping.’ Bild is obliged to delete the discrediting article from its website.”
“The fact that Mikhalina Lysova managed to defend her rights in court proves that every person has access to justice,” Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said following the decision.
“Mikhalina is a very famous visually impaired biathlete and cross-country skier. She has taken numerous awards at the international and national levels, including the Paralympic Games. All of her trophies were won in a fair fight which can be proved by a great number of clean doping tests she has passed during the past 10 years,” he added.
At the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea, Lysova grabbed six awards: two gold, three silver and one bronze, competing in biathlon and cross-country skiing events for visually impaired athletes.