By Jack Stubbs
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – There will be no Russian weightlifters at the Rio Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Wednesday rejected the country’s appeal against a ban imposed by the sport’s governing body, the IWF.
The Russian team were banned last week after the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said “the integrity of weightlifting has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians”.
The Russian Weightlifting Federation appealed to CAS but sport’s ultimate court found against them.
“The appeal has been dismissed,” CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb told Reuters.
“The CAS panel in charge of this case has determined that the decision of the IWF was valid and proportionate to the circumstances.”
On Tuesday, CAS dismissed an appeal by Russian rowers in similar circumstances.
Last month, the IWF said its Executive Board had decided to suspend for a year national federations that produced three or more doping violations in re-tests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
It named Russia, along with Kazakhstan and Belarus, but said it would await confirmation of the positive tests from the IOC before implementing the suspension.
Last week it noted that Russian competitors had been named in the McLaren Report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that exposed evidence of state-backed doping, evasion and cover-ups in Russia.
The IOC has directed sports federations to allow Russian athletes to compete in Rio only if they could effectively prove that they had operated in an environment with a bona-fide anti-doping regime. The IOC also said any athletes specifically named in the McLaren report should be excluded.
In its statement last week the IWF said: “We would like to highlight the extremely shocking and disappointing statistics regarding the Russian weightlifters.”
Reeb dismissed any criticism about the role of CAS in ruling on athletes’ involvement in the Games.
“There have been criticisms about the CAS decision with respect to athletics a few days ago, but our activity, our job, is really to render decisions according to the law, we are not a political body, we do not express political opinions and of course we cannot be seen as a political institution,” he said.
“Maybe fans or the public in Russia may consider us as the bad guys but in reality it should not be so.”
Little known outside the world of sport, CAS has been front and centre already in Rio.
“We have broken the record for the number of cases registered, now we have 18 cases, in London we had 11 cases for the entire duration of the Games,” Reeb said.
(Editing by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Alison Williams)