Both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and FINA have taken up the need for decisions on two Russian swimmers, Vlad Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev, ahead of the swimming portion of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games that start next Saturday.
According to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko in an interview with Russian state-run media TASS, FINA is expected to decide on Saturday whether the pair will be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games.
FINA named them as two of three swimmers who were a part of the “disappearing positives” program run by Russian doping authorities that turned positive tests into negative (clean) tests. The IOC has instructed International Federations that all athletes who have previously been sanctioned for doping violations or who were named in the McLaren IP report related to the disappearing positive tests were ineligible for the Olympics, but largely put the onus on international federations – who have been a mixed bag of how strictly to enforce the broader IOC directives.
The CAS has announced that a hearing for the two (with no mention of the third swimmer, Daria Ustinova) will be the first of the temporary court set up in Rio de Janeiro for the purpose of quickly reviewing disputes that arrive at the Olympic Games.
Both WADA and FINA have refused to release more information on what the specific accusations against the swimmers are, though the typically-detailed CAS decision reports should shed more light on the matter.
The press release from the CAS:
Rio de Janeiro, 30 July 2016 – The ad hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has registered its first procedures. The Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev have each filed a request for arbitration against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Swimming Federation (FINA).
Both swimmers request CAS to declare the decision of the IOC Executive Board of 24 July 2016 (paragraph 2) invalid and unenforceable. Such paragraph sets out the new criteria for the admission of Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio. The swimmers also request that the decision of the FINA Bureau of 25 July 2016, declaring both of them ineligible for the Olympic Games in Rio, be set aside. Furthermore, they request that the IOC validates the entries submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) for them to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio.
A Panel of arbitrators from the CAS ad hoc Division will be constituted shortly and will determine the next steps in these two procedures. The final decisions will be announced by media release.
Mutko, however, says the case might not get that far.
“A decision on swimming is due today,” he said. “26 people have passed, and there are no questions to Morozov and Lobintsev, but for some reason they are on the report made by McLaren. But today, the swimming federation should decide, thus we shall have either 24 or 26 people.”
Russia originally submitted an approved roster of 35 pool swimmers from the Olympics. With 6 pool swimmers eliminated, it’s not clear how the team got from 35 to 24 and who else might have been cut.
Morozov has denied any wrongdoing, citing clean test results from doping agencies around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and FINA’s own testing program. Lobintsev has not made a public comment on the McLaren report, but this week did accept a “no-fault” finding for a positive test for Meldonium in the United States.
FINA has made several statements opposed to the suspension of Russian swimmers, including the president Julio Maglione declaring that WADA had ‘exceeded its powers.’