Russia Wield Emotion in Pressing to Overturn Doping Ban

At the hearing this month, according to two people present at the hearings, Russia’s lawyers argued that WADA had gone beyond reasonable limits with its punishments, and even beyond what it legally could do within the scope of its statutes.

WADA’s legal team countered by describing its efforts as something akin to a bureaucratic housekeeping, an attempt to bring in-house — and standardize — the sanctioning powers that had been left to individual sports federations.

But they also pointed out the dire consequences of failing to punish Russia for its actions. The country had not only undertaken a doping program that used state resources, including the successor agency to the K.G.B., to accomplish its goals, the lawyers said, but it then used the same forces in a cover-up its actions.

If WADA is not allowed to police those who break its rules, the lawyers argued, then it will be rendered powerless to stop industrial-scale doping in world sports.

WADA declined to comment on the hearing, or its legal strategy.

The sheer number of interests represented at the hearing gave a hint at the stakes. A lawyer for the I.O.C., for example, sought clarification on the ban on Russian government officials solely as a practical matter. According to a lawyer representing one of the groups backing Russia’s cause, the question was hypothetical but important: Might the I.O.C. face punishment if Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, attended a major competition like the Olympics as a guest of the host country’s head of state? Would other governing bodies potentially face the same risk at other events?

Most of the interested parties, though, seemed to be participating as part of a show of force backing Russia’s case. In addition to the six athletes who made personal pleas to the court, lawyers representing 50 other Russian athletes argued on their behalf, saying it would be wrong to punish them for the crimes of others.

Those emotional appeals for clemency were followed by another from a longtime ally of Russian sports, ice hockey’s global governing body. Throughout its years defending itself from the cheating charges, Russia has always found a reliable backer in René Fasel, the International Ice Hockey Federation president. Fasel has long argued against banning Russia’s colors and symbols from sporting events.


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