by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran:
The decision to exclude Russian athletes who have been cleared of all wrongdoing is contrary to all principles of justice
Twelve days ago, shortly after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’) cleared 28 Russian athletes of the doping allegations which had been made against them, I expressed the hope that sanity would prevail and that the International Olympic Committee would reconsider its decision to exclude some of these athletes from the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
After all the International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid commission had reported that there was no proof of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia, and since the athletes had been cleared of the doping allegations there seemed no reason to exclude them.
In the event sanity – or at least justice – did not prevail. Not only did the International Olympic Committee refuse to allowed the cleared athletes to attend the PyeongChang Games, but Thomas Bach – the IOC President, who is himself a lawyer – not only criticised CAS’s decision in intemperate terms but actually called for CAS to be reorganised
We cannot have a situation of CAS losing its credibility with athletes… We have to do our job to make proposals so trust of the athletes can be restored….. [the CAS] ruling was extremely disappointing and surprising…..We feel that this decision shows the urgent need for reforms in the internal structure of CAS…..
Bach then went on to insinuate that the 28 Russian athletes who had been cleared by CAS might not be clean after allt
……[the absence of CAS sanctions does not mean that the Russian athletes are entitled to receive an invitation from the IOC] because receiving this invitation is a privilege of clean Russian athletes
(bold italics added)
Bach did not of course say what grounds the International Olympic Committee had for insinuating that the Russian athletes who had been cleared might not be ‘clean’ after all, or what distinguished them from the ‘clean’ Russian athletes the International Olympic Committee had invited to PyeongChang.
However, and unsurprisingly given the clear threat against CAS implicit in these words, CAS then went on to adopt this strange reasoning in its subsequent decision to uphold the International Olympic Committee’s decision to exclude these cleared Russian athletes from the PyeongChang Winter Games. Here is what CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb said in an interview he gave to RT
The duty of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was to show that the athletes involved in this case were guilty of an anti-doping rule violation. The fact that you cannot establish the evidence of guilt does not mean that you have established the innocence of the athletes
(bold italics added)
Ever since the beginning of the Russian Olympic Doping Scandal in the autumn of 2015, and especially since the publication of the first of Professor McLaren’s two reports on the even of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I have been saying that the burden of proof was being reversed, and that instead of those who were accusing Russian athletes of doping offences being asked to prove their case, it was the Russian athletes who were being required to prove their innocence. This for example is what I wrote on 18th July 2016, shortly before the start of the Summer Olympics in Rio
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