A lifetime ban for alleged doping in sport only lasts a couple of years if you are a Russian athlete, according to legal experts.
The bans for life against 28 Russians for doping offences at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Japan, have been overturned on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because the panel decided the evidence was not enough to prove doping.
Another 11 appeals were partially upheld as evidence was “sufficient to establish an anti-doping rule violation”.
Now, the court and the International Olympic Committee, which imposed the bans, are set for a legal face-off as the IOC considers an appeal of the rulings.
The IOC may declare the Russians ineligible for the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in South Korea that are due to start next week.
Doping mess is a shambles
“On the one hand, the confirmation of the anti-doping rule violations for 11 athletes because of the manipulation of their samples clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system at Sochi 2014,” said an IOC spokesman.
“On the other hand, the IOC regrets very much that – according to the Cas press release – the panels did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases.
“This may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping.
“Therefore, the IOC will analyse the reasoned decisions very carefully once they are available and consider consequences, including an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.”
The court decision means the 2018 Olympics is a shambles.
Life doesn’t mean life
Life certainly means something completely different from what sports fans would expect.
And if the IOC deems the 28 Russians ineligible, the court has left the way open for them to take legal action against the IOC on the grounds they did not violate anti-doping rules.
Former Russian anti-doping official and whistle-blower Dr Grigory Rodchenkov said: “This panel’s unfortunate decision provides a very small measure of punishment for some athletes but a complete get out of jail free card for most.
“The court’s decision only emboldens cheaters, makes it harder for clean athletes to win, and provides yet another ill-gotten gain for the corrupt Russian doping system.”