CAS ruling to clear 28 Russians “emboldens cheaters”

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The lawyer for doping whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov told reporters the decision by sport’s top court CAS on Thursday to lift life bans on 28 Russians “emboldens cheaters”. Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory, is the source of revelations on Moscow’s state-sponsored doping.

His American lawyer Jim Walden vigorously attacked CAS’s ruling on the 43 Russians who had appealed their lifetime Olympic bans for doping. Calling the verdict “unfortunate” he said it “provides a very small measure of punishment for some athletes but a complete ‘get out of jail free card’ for most.”

“The CAS decision only emboldens cheaters, makes it harder for clean athletes to win, and provides yet another ill-gotten gain for the corrupt Russian doping system generally, and Putin specifically.” CAS cleared completely 28 of the Russians accused of doping and they may now compete at the Pyeongchang Games starting next week but only if given invitations by the IOC.

For the 11 others they had their lifetime bans lifted due to “insufficient evidence” but were still banned from the 2018 Olympics. Walden said Rodchenkov had testified fully and credibly at CAS. “His truth has been verified by forensic evidence, other whistle-blowers, and, more recently, recovery of the Moscow lab’s secret database, showing thousands of dirty tests that were covered up.”

He claimed the ruling proved that self-policing in international sports was a “monumental failure”. “If athletes want to compete clean, they must use their collective power to force reform. “They have to burn the current system to the ground. Otherwise, doping should simply be permitted so at least the playing field is level.”

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