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Russian Olympic Committee loses appeal against suspension by the IOC

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The Russian Olympic Committee has lost an appeal against its suspension by the International Olympic Committee.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Friday that it had dismissed the ROC’s appeal against the suspension imposed in October. The IOC objected to the ROC incorporating four sports bodies representing regions of eastern Ukraine, which it calls “a breach of the Olympic Charter”.

Russia was already barred by the IOC from entering athletes for the Paris Olympics under its own flag, and the suspension doesn’t stop the IOC’s efforts for Russians to compete as neutral athletes without national symbols.

CAS said it found the suspension issued by the IOC executive board “did not breach the principles of legality, equality, predictability or proportionality.”

The ROC said the CAS ruling, which has not yet been published in full, “practically copied out the IOC’s arguments” and ignored the Russian case. The ROC can appeal to the Swiss supreme court but has not said if it plans to do so.

“This CAS ruling is yet more evidence that civil and sports discrimination directed against Russians has reached an unprecedented scale in the run-up to the Games in Paris,” the ROC said in a statement.

The ROC said that CAS “confirmed that the Olympic team of Russia, Russian athletes and officials will not take part in the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in Paris, just as it excluded any possible cooperation by the ROC with athletes who the IOC recognizes as meeting the criteria of so-called neutrality.”

The IOC said Friday it was “pleased” by the CAS ruling its suspension of the ROC was valid.

The ROC’s decision to incorporate the sports bodies for the four Ukrainian regions “constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violates the territorial integrity of the (National Olympic Committee) of Ukraine, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee in accordance with the Olympic Charter,” the IOC said.

The suspension in October removed the ROC’s right to receive funding from the IOC but has not affected the many Russians who are competing in international sports as neutral athletes as they attempt to qualify for this year’s Paris Olympics, as part of an IOC-backed initiative.

They would go to the Paris Games under the name of Individual Neutral Athletes, the IOC has said previously.

The IOC previously said it will bar “athletes who actively support the war” in Ukraine but it is not requiring Russian athletes to speak out against it. The IOC has said that the suspension means it would not have to consult the ROC on which athletes to select.

The ROC said in its statement Friday that the neutral athlete procedure involved “humiliating criteria” and claimed that athletes could risk breaking Russian law by agreeing to them.

A similar Individual Neutral Athlete system is in place for athletes from Russia’s ally Belarus, where the National Olympic Committee is not suspended. The IOC earlier said it will consult with the Belarusian NOC about athlete selection for Paris.

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AP coverage of the Paris Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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