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Lawyers to help work out Russian athletes’ defense in court — minister

Russia will not stop defending its athletes and will do it best to prevent any athlete from being treated unfairly, the Russian sports minister vowed

MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. A future plan of Russian athletes’ defense in court will be drawn up along with lawyers after the statement of reasons is considered over each case, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told the NTV channel in a televised interview.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland’s Lausanne published on April 23 the full text of its verdicts on the appeals from Russian cross country skier Alexander Legkov (his appeal was upheld) and Russian bobsledder Alexander Zubkov (his appeal was partially upheld).

According to the published document, key witness and former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov said in his testimony that he never personally gave to any of Russian athletes the so-called Duchess cocktail and never saw them consuming this banned performance enhancing drug.

Rodchenkov also said that he could not verify personally that Russian athletes participated in the alleged scheme of tampering with collected doping samples. He added that he was never present during the collection of clean urine doping samples and never saw or heard of Russian athletes and coaches receiving orders to consume Duchess cocktail.

"Unfortunately, the Olympics cannot be brought back, nor be held again," Kolobkov said. "However, the fact that the ruling of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was recognized as an unjust one proves that, in principle, we have succeeded in defending the honor of our athletes in courts."

"Another question is if more tools are possible in the future, including judicial ones," he said. "This should be considered along with lawyers, legal companies, but I think such decisions will be made after the statements of reasons are scrutinized."

Under no circumstances, Russia will stop defending its athletes and will do it best to prevent any athlete from either being suspended unfairly or being stripped of their medals, the Russian sports minister vowed.

Late last year, the IOC Disciplinary Commission ruled to cancel results of 43 Russian athletes and barred them for life from Olympics. The decision came after the findings of the IOC special commission, which was led by Denis Oswald and was tasked with the reanalysis of doping samples collected from Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

On December 5, the IOC Executive Board announced its decision to suspend the whole Russian national team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang over multiple doping abuse allegations.

The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia might go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes, or the OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’


Whistleblower Rodchenkov and his doping allegations

Rodchenkov told Western media in the spring of 2016 that Russian athletes largely used performance enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with the approval of the national sports authorities.

On the whole, the ex-doping official claimed that the Russian sports authorities allegedly prepared a special doping program for national athletes in order to win most of the medals at home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

The former chief of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory also gave WADA last year what he said was a list of athletes who on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics allegedly had used a doping cocktail that he concocted and named after a popular Soviet-era soft drink, ‘Duchess Cocktail.’

On June 8, 2016, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against Rodchenkov on charges of power abuse. On September 21, 2017 Moscow’s Basmanny District Court arrested him in absentia.

In November 2017, the Russian Investigative Committee announced that it would seek the extradition of Rodchenkov, who absconded to the United States in 2015. In addition, an obstruction of justice charges was filed against him. He was also put on the international wanted list.