Six Russian XC Skiers Provisionally Suspended
Will Russia be Banned from the Games?
The Russian doping fiasco is heating up with the Pyeongchang 2018 Games around the corner, and all eyes are on the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In December 2016, six cross-country skiers and two biathletes were provisionally suspended as they were linked to doping violations during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics as a direct result of the Mclaren Reports, commissioned by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA). The report suggested as many as 1,000 athletes could be involved in Russia's massive doping scandal, of which 28 Nordic athletes were highlighted by the IOC.
Following notification, Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova and Julia Ivanova appealed, but the FIS Doping Panel made the unanimous decision to uphold the provisional suspensions until Oct. 31, 2017.
Legkov and Belov appealed to the Court of Arbitration (CAS), but their appeals were denied, and on Nov. 1, the IOC Disciplinary Commission composed of Denis Oswald (chairman), Juan Antonio Samaranch and Patrick Baumann upheld the suspensions of the two athletes. Then on Nov. 9, the remaining four cross-country skiers were also banned from all future Olympics as a result of being found guilty of doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.
But the IOC'S jurisdiction is restricted to the Olympic Games, and in its decision mandated FIS “to consider any further action within its own competence,” including the FIS World Cup and other FIS competitions. A decision is pending by the FIS Doping Panel prior to the season-opening World Cup in Ruka, Finland on Nov. 24.
The bigger question is whether Russia will be banned from the Pyeongchang 2018 Games as a result of its state-sponsored doping that represented “an unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport.” Pressure is mounting on the IOC and FIS from athletes, federations and anti-doping agencies to take decisive action and support clean sport. – JM