Russian lawmakers demand end to sports court recognition
Two Russian parliamentarians have called for their country to no longer recognize the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), arguing that the Swiss-based organization has neglected to protect the rights of Russian athletes.
Based in Lausanne, CAS is considered the final arbiter in cases involving global governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as well as national sports federations.
According to Russian lawmakers Roman Teryushkov and Eduard Isakov, the top sports court has failed to ensure that athletes from their country are protected amid widespread bans imposed because of the conflict in Ukraine.
The pair submitted a bill to the Russian lower house of parliament this week, demanding that the country no longer recognize decisions by CAS.
“If CAS exercises its powers based on the belonging of a particular athlete to a certain nationality, thereby refusing to protect the rights of our athletes, then frankly I see no reason to further recognize the jurisdiction of CAS,” Isakov, who is a member of the Federation Council, explained to TASS.
The senator added that the bill he had submitted with Teryushkov on Wednesday, which can be seen on the State Duma website, would “eliminate the primacy of international arbitration courts and their decisions over the decisions of the courts of the judicial system of the Russian Federation in the field of physical culture and sports.”
Isakov said that the current situation whereby Russian sports federations abide by CAS decisions and sanctions imposed on athletes should be overturned. The senator argued that Russia has been repeatedly targeted by various international sports organizations over the past eight years, which have “consistently implemented a policy to eliminate the Russian Federation as a sports power.”
Fellow lawmaker Teryushkov, who serves as a Duma Deputy, has been a vocal critic of the sanctions levied on Russian sport. He has also previously suggested that any Russian athletes who attempt to switch citizenship to dodge the bans should be considered guilty of treason.
Numerous international sports federations have imposed bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes following an IOC recommendation on February 28. Sanctions by the likes of football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA have been challenged by Russia at CAS, but thus far without success.
However, CAS has ruled in favor of Russian athletes on previous occasions, notably when an emergency panel cleared figure skater Kamila Valieva to continue to compete at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February, despite opposition from the IOC, WADA, and the International Skating Union (ISU).
CAS also halved a four-year ban on Russian sport originally imposed by WADA back in 2019 over allegations of data tampering at a Moscow anti-doping laboratory. The sanction, which means Russian athletes are forced to compete at major events under neutral status, was reduced to two years upon appeal at the end of 2020, and is due to expire in December of this year.