28th September 2020
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decisions in the appeals filed by Russian biathletes Olga Vilukhina and Yana Romanova against the decisions issued by the International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Commission (IOC DC) dated 27 November 2017, as well as in the related appeal filed by the biathlete Olga Zaytseva against the IOC DC decision dated 1 December 2017 (collectively, the Athletes and the Challenged Decisions).
The Athletes participated at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia (the Sochi Games) in February 2014. Ms Vilukhina participated in five competitions, winning an individual silver medal in the Women’s 7,5 km sprint race. Ms Romanova participated in five competitions and Ms Zaytseva participated in six competitions. Together, the Athletes won silver in the Women’s 4 x 6 km team relay.
Following the investigations that were conducted after the Sochi Games into an organised doping cover-up scheme, the IOC DC opened disciplinary proceedings against the Athletes and concluded that they had been participants in, and beneficiaries of, a cover-up scheme implemented on the occasion of the Sochi Games. In the Challenged Decisions, the Athletes were found to have committed anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) pursuant to Article 2 of the International Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Rules applicable to the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and were disqualified from the events in which they participated during the Sochi Games, ordered to return all medals, pins and diplomas obtained during the Games, and were declared ineligible to be accredited in any capacity for all future editions of the Olympic Games.
In December 2017, the Athletes filed appeals against the Challenged Decisions at the CAS, seeking to have them annulled. At the request of the parties, the proceedings were suspended until mid-2019. All three arbitration procedures were handled by the same Panel of arbitrators: Mr Jacques Radoux (Luxembourg), President, Prof. Philippe Sands QC (UK) and Prof. Petros C. Mavroidis (Greece). A common hearing among the Athletes took place on 2 and 3 March 2020.
In relation to Ms Vilukhina and Ms Romanova: The Panel concluded that none of the acts alleged to have committed by these two athletes had been established to its comfortable satisfaction and beyond the mere suspicion of a potential ADRV. Accordingly, the Panel ordered that the findings and sanctions imposed upon Ms Vilukhina and Ms Romanova in the challenged decisions should be set aside and that their results in individual events at the Sochi Games should be reinstated.
In relation to Ms Zaytseva: The Panel concluded that Ms Zaytseva committed ADRVs in the form of the use of a prohibited method (urine substitution) and in the form of the use of a prohibited substance. The IOC decision in this matter is confirmed, with one exception: Ms Zaytseva is declared ineligible for the next edition of the Olympic Winter Games subsequent to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games (i.e. PyeongChang 2018) instead of a life ban from all Olympic Games.
All other rulings contained in the Decision rendered by the International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Commission dated 1 December 2017 were maintained, including the disqualification of the results achieved by the Russian team in the Women’s 4x6km Biathlon Relay Event and in the Relay Mix Biathlon Event at the Sochi Games.