Is Leaving ‘Clean’ Russian Athletes Out of the Olympics Unfair?

Russian athletes may not be able to compete in this year’s Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Russia from participating because of doping violations.

Recent reports indicate the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed an appeal by 47 Russian athletes and coaches against a ban on participation in the Winter Olympics.

Jessica van der Meer, sport law barrister at civil and commercial chambers 2 Temple Gardens had this to say: “The CAS decision reflects a willingness to support the IOC objective of clean sport, potentially to the detriment of ‘clean’ individual Russian athletes.

“The CAS decision, which had to determine whether there was any basis for the IOC’s refusal to invite Russian athletes, is in some ways, a judicial review of the IOC’s method for determining which athletes are able to take part in the competition.

“The Court found that the invitation process, guidelines and criteria set up by the IOC to determine which athletes were ‘clean’ and would therefore be invited, were not inherently discriminatory or unfair.

“For the CAS to acknowledge that its decision had the potential to sanction individual Russian athletes on the sole basis of their citizenship but to stress that it had to balance this risk against the IOC’s objective of achieving ‘clean’ Olympics reflects the emphasis put on the fight against doping by the Court.

“The Russian Olympic Committee has yet to rebut the evidence of systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia.”

Despite the IOC banning Russian athletes, over 100 fans dressed in red, white and blue made themselves very vocal in the Gangeung Ice Arena. These fans were cheering the “Olympic athletes of Russia” (OAR), who compete as neutrals, and not nationals. However, the IOC’s ban clarifies that OARs must respect a strict code of conduct and “refrain from any public form of publicity, activity and communication associated with the national flag, anthem, emblem and symbol” at any Olympic site.

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