Winter Olympics: Russia threaten to take the IOC to court over new doping bans and stripping of gold medals

The International Olympic Committee annulled the titles Alexander Zubkov won in the two-man and four-man bobsleigh in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics following hearings by its commission into state-sponsored doping.
The International Olympic Committee annulled the titles Alexander Zubkov won in the two-man and four-man bobsleigh in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics following hearings by its commission into state-sponsored doping.PHOTO: REUTERS

Moscow (AFP) - Russia's bobsleigh and skeleton federation responded to more Sochi doping bans on Friday (Nov 24) by saying they were prepared to take legal action against the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The International Olympic Committee annulled the titles Alexander Zubkov won in the two-man and four-man bobsleigh in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics following hearings by its commission into state-sponsored doping.

That followed punishments announced on Wednesday (Nov 22) for four Russian skeleton competitors.

"It's possible to communicate with the people who issue their verdicts on the basis of a single computer file produced by a fraud only in the court," said the statement from the Russian bobsleigh federation. "We are set to do that."

The statement indicated that the federation planned to go to the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"Hopefully, the CAS will not allow the destruction of the Olympic movement, which is currently happening."

Three other Russian competitors were disqualified retrospectively on Friday: Olga Fatkulina, who won silver in the 500 metres speed skating, Olga Stulneva (bobsleigh) and Alexander Rumyantsev (speed skating).

A rush of rulings this week means that, in total, the IOC have punished 14 Russian Olympians on the recommendation of a commission headed by Swiss sports official Denis Oswald and set up to investigate evidence of state-sponsored doping.

The skeleton competitors that were punished on Wednesday included Alexander Tretiakov, the Sochi men's champion, and Elena Nikitina, a bronze medallist, as well as Maria Orlova and Olga Potylitsyna, who did not win medals.

All the guilty athletes have also received a life ban from the Olympics.

Russians have lost nine medals, including four of their 13 golds, from the Games they hosted in February 2014.

They finished top of the Sochi medals table but the latest disqualifications mean they have slipped behind Norway (11 golds) and Canada (10 golds).

On Friday, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation also announced that it had provisionally suspended Tretiakov, Nikitina, Orlova and Potylitsyna from its World Cup. It has not yet made an announcement on Zubkov.

In contrast, skiing's world governing body, the FIS, has not taken the same steps against six Russian cross country skiers, including Alexander Legkov, a Sochi gold medallist.

The FIS said on Thursday (Nov 23) that the skiers would be provisionally authorised to line up in its World Cup, an announcement that drew outraged reactions from other competitors.

FIS explained the decision by saying they were "obliged to await the official communication of the IOC decision and the evidence behind it, before taking measures".

The IOC responded by telling AFP on Friday that: "All the international federations concerned have received the evidence... They had the chance to participate in the hearings."

They added that on Monday (Nov 27), it will publish the details of the first case dealt with by the commission.

The IOC's executive committee meets in Lausanne from Dec 5-7 to rule on whether to allow Russia to compete in the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.