Suspended Russian skiing stars Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin – as well as somewhat lesser known Evgeniy Belov, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova and Julia Ivanova, collectively known as The Russian Six – could start booking their tickets to the 2018 Olympics “if further investigations will produce no new facts that have hitherto been completely unknown”
Furtheremore, Legkov and the rest of the six are cleared to compete in any FIS – officiated races without limitations starting November 1st this year – an ample time to prepare for PyeongChang.
German lawyer for Legkov and Belov, Christof Wischemann has published the excerpts from the CAS ruling that was sent to the athletes this week on his website:
… The evidence so far, ie, the McLaren Report itself and the accompanying documents, which have already been the subject of the review by the Court, are not sufficient evidence to convict individual athletes. This means that the athletes will participate in the start of the next winter season and also in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, if no further investigations will produce new facts that have hitherto been completely unknown.
The CAS decision draws the line in one of the most heated disputes in modern sport – at least in one aspect of it.
The McLaren Report unequivocally states that the Russian Federation had a long running mass doping program. The Russians says – bogus, prove it with facts, not with statements. There are many arguments the sides operate with – it is safe to declare only that to any unbiased observer the issue is extremely complicated. We here will thus avoid delving into it at present time.
There is an extremely important follow-up issue that needed to be resolved ASAP : should individual athletes be in principle held responsible in cases with zero evidence of actual doping – or any wrongdoing on their part for that matter?
The IOC/WADA rules are harsh but at least fairly clear: doping tests reveal banned substances? – you’re banned no-matter-what ( unless you can produce a valid TUE or Therapeutic Use Exemption, that is). Found in possession of black-listed equipment e.g. IV drips – you’re also banned.
But what if your tests all came out negative – however there is somebody saying they’ve been swapped, as is in case of the Russian Six? Uncharted legal territory
Well, until now at least. What the CAS appear to be saying in its verdict, setting a legal precedent, is “insufficient evidence to convict”. There was a “justified possibility” – and that led to suspension last year, denying the six Russians both the World Cup and the World Championship in Lahti. However, no new evidence of wrongdoing emerged – therefore, they are welcome back on the track.