MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. Russia may turn to civil law courts seeking justice against the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to ban for life a group of Russian cross-country skiers, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Thursday.
An IOC special commission, chaired by Denis Oswald, recommended earlier in the day to ban for life four Russian cross-country skiers as well as to cancel their results from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi over doping abuse allegations. The four skiers at the issue are Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexey Petukhov, Julia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova.
"We will render full support to the athletes as we believe them and the team," Mutko, who oversees the issues of sports, tourism and youth affairs in the Russian government, said in an interview with TASS.
"I hope that the athletes and relevant federations will be filing appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport," he said. "It is possible that their cases could be rendered to civil law courts with adversarial rules, as in the current case we see neither a definite prosecution side nor a cross-examination procedure."
"There is a presumption of innocence and each athlete has a full right for his or her personal defense," the Russian deputy prime minister added.
On November 1, the IOC slapped with life bans two Russian cross-country skiers, Alexander Legkov and Evgeniy Belov, over doping abuse accusations and also ruled to annul their results from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
The IOC stated on November 1 that its decision to ban Russian skiers Legkov and Belov were made based on the first conclusions from the Oswald Commission hearings, which had been conducted in the context of the Sochi 2014 forensic and analytic doping investigations.
In July 2016, the IOC set up two separate commissions to probe doping abuse allegations in Russian sports as well as alleged involvement of state officials in manipulations with performance enhancing drugs, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi.
The first of the two commissions is an Inquiry Commission, chaired by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid. The commission is looking into accusations set out in the McLaren report that alleges the existence of a supposed institutional conspiracy in Russia’s summer and winter sports, in which the country’s state officials were allegedly engaged in.
The second investigative body at the issue is a Disciplinary Commission, chaired by IOC Member Denis Oswald. This commission is tasked to address alleged doping uses and manipulation of samples concerning the Russian athletes, who participated in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
The next Olympics, which are XXIII Winter Olympic Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018 and participation of the whole Russian national team in the event is still under a question.