‘Cover up of cover-up’ still led to downsized Russian ban

zA

The sport’s highest court criticized Russia for engaging in “cover-up of cover-up” in another desperate attempt to deny guilt for a state-sponsored doping program, while justifying its decision to reduce the country’s sanctions at the next two Olympics. .

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the 186-page Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling in the case it ruled on last month between the Russians and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The decision is expected to be made public this week.

WADA had proposed a four-year ban on Russia handling potentially inculpatory data it had held in its Moscow lab for years before turning it over to investigators in early 2019. CAS reduced the penalty to two years.

Despite the easing of this and other sanctions, CAS arbitrators denounced Russia while again exposing the intricate details of the plot to manipulate the lab data. The panel concluded that the fabrications meant “it will never be possible to know the number of athletes or cheating officials who may have escaped detection.”

“The manipulations show that the Russian authorities remain as willing to interfere with and corrupt the anti-doping system as ever,” the panel said.

Nonetheless, the CAS called for more lenient conditions than WADA wanted, easing the burden on Russian athletes to be eligible to compete as neutrals at the upcoming games in Tokyo and Beijing and relaxing a proposal to ban Russian athletes. Russian government officials.

The panel said it reduced the sanction in part because WADA never intended the ban to include just one summer and one winter Olympics. (Four years would also have put the Paris 2024 Games at stake.) The coronavirus pandemic has forced the IOC to postpone the Summer Games to 2021, and the CAS said the reduction would also help avoid further disruption in the games. preparations “especially in light of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “

“Further, the panel recognizes that imposing serious consequences on a whole new generation of Russian athletes may go further than necessary to achieve the goals of (WADA sanctioning rules.),” The panel wrote.

When the decision was announced last month, both sides won victory rounds – WADA because CAS essentially agreed with every side of its case, and Russia because, despite this, its sanction has been reduced.

CAS said the reduction should not be interpreted as “validation of the behavior of Rusada or the Russian authorities”.

But the release of the full report, which summarizes details of Russia’s plot to erase, rewrite and sometimes completely create new files in the 23 million megabyte of information cache it held at the Moscow lab, sends a message. mixed.

For example, one of Russia’s biggest victories was the easing of the conditions for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals. WADA insisted that the athletes could prove that they had not been involved in Russia’s non-compliance. But the CAS judged that it was too heavy a burden. Why? Because much of the proof of their innocence could have been hidden in parts of the 23 million megabytes that had been compromised.

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