‘It’s about honor & dignity’: Russian athletes file $4.5mn lawsuit against McLaren

‘It’s about honor & dignity’: Russian athletes file $4.5mn lawsuit against McLaren
Members of the Russian national rowing team have filed a lawsuit against Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, the author of the WADA-sanctioned report on alleged Russian doping, seeking compensation for their “damaged reputation.”

McLaren, who led an investigation initiated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), claimed that hundreds of Russian athletes across various sports had benefited from an alleged state-sponsored doping system which supposedly existed in the build-up to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

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McLaren’s findings led to a massive crackdown on Russian sports bodies and athletes, with the most severe punishment being the country’s ban from the Rio Olympics in 2016 and PyeongChang Games in 2018, with large numbers of national athletes missing out.

Last year, the Court of Attribution for Sport (CAS) cleared dozens of Russian athletes of doping, stating that the evidence presented in the McLaren report was “found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes concerned.”

Following in the footsteps of their compatriots, Russian rowers who were prohibited from taking part in the Rio Games due to the McLaren report have decided to repair their damaged reputation by filing a lawsuit against the Canadian lawyer.

The suit issued to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice implies СAD$6 million ($ 4.5 million) compensation for the tarnished image of the athletes whose guilt has not been proved.

READ MORE: IOC 'disappointed,' decides against appeal as Olympic champion Legkov cleared of doping

Talking to RT, Veniamin But, the former head of the Russian Rowing Federation, who initiated the legal proceedings against McLaren, says that acknowledgement of the athletes’ innocence is the main aim behind the suit.

Money is not our main goal, it’s all about defending our honor and dignity. He (McLaren) besmirched our reputation [by] relying on unreliable information. He should apologize at least and admit that he was wrong,” But said.

The former sports official explained that $4.5 million in compensation stemmed from the money they spent on the preparation for the 2016 Olympics, which the team missed due to the ban.

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It’s quite simple, this is the sum of non-budgetary money we spent on the preparation for the 2016 Games. We have all the necessary documents to confirm the spending.”

But said that the Canadian lawyer had been shocked by the news when receiving the notification of the legal proceedings opened against him.

The moment when McLaren received notification was recorded on camera. It was clearly visible that the news had an effect on him. He was shocked, to put it mildly. However, maybe this is his typical behavior. At least when I was watching the video it seemed to me that he even staggered,” he added.

He also noted that the legal action could take up to two years if the parties don’t reach an agreement on the issue.