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IOC’s acknowledgement of Rodchenkov’s forged signatures may impact other cases — lawyer

The IOC has confirmed the Russian side’s conclusion about Rodchenkov’s fake documents in the case of doping violations by athletes Olga Zaitseva, Yana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina
International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne EPA-EFE/FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL
International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne
© EPA-EFE/FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL

LAUSANNE, March 3. /TASS/. A confirmation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that signatures of Russia’s ex-doping official Grigory Rodchenkov were forged in documents, which are presently used in court hearings involving three Russian biathletes, may have an impact on other court trials, a Russian lawyer said on Tuesday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne started on Monday hearings into an appeal filed over two years ago by Russian biathlon athletes Olga Zaitseva, Yana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina against their lifetime suspensions from the sport imposed by the IOC.

Alexei Panich, a lawyer representing interests of three Russian biathletes in the CAS, stated on Monday that all signatures on Grigory Rodchenkov’s affidavits, which had been submitted by the IOC as a key protocol in the case against the Russian biathletes, were forged.

The court in Lausanne ordered the IOC on Monday to provide explanations on this statement within a day and the world’s governing Olympics body announced on Tuesday that the signatures of Rodchenkov were forged.

"The matter is that part of the documents, which are used in our case, have appeared in other court cases as well," Panich told journalists. "It involves cases, which have been already closed, which are currently in courts or which are still pending consideration."

"Therefore, if a conclusion that the signatures had been forged turns out to be correct it may impact other cases as well," the lawyer added.

The Russian female biathletes, who have officially wrapped their sport careers in November 2017, were banned for life from all sports activities by the IOC, which also ruled to cancel all their results achieved at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Zaitseva, Romanova and Vilukhina, together with another Russian biathlete, Yekaterina Shumilova, won the silver of the 2014 Olympics in biathlon team relay competition and the IOC cancelled their result. Vilukhina was also stripped of her 2014 Olympics silver medal in the women’s biathlon sprint event. All three of them filed an appeal with the Swiss-based court over two years ago, but the start of the hearings had been postponed since then.

Whistleblower Rodchenkov and his doping allegations

Former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory Grigory 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 informed WADA about the so-called list of Russian athletes, who on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics allegedly used a doping cocktail that he concocted himself 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.