Denied access for Putin, reduced ban and ‘yes’ to mention Russia: victory or defeat of our sport?

Sports Russia had divided into “losers” and merry optimists

On 17 December, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled the decision to ban Russian from big international competitions for two years for falsifying and deleting data in the Moscow anti-doping laboratory. Russian athletes will be able to compete at Olympics and world championships only as neutral athletes. However, the concessions turned out to be quite a pleasant bonus from the court compared to the previous sanctions announced a year ago — the restrictions are mainly even softer than those imposed before the Winter Olympics two years ago. So it seems like the CAS is trying to go by the principle to favour both “yours and ours”. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report about the reduced term of the ban, colours of the Russian flag on the uniform and ban on access for Vladimir Putin with caveats, these and other “small” nuances allowing Russia to feel quite well in the sports world.

Russian sports functionaries are in general glad about the CAS’s verdict. Confession of the guilt?

The fact that the final decision of the CAS is considered as rather a victory in Russian sports circles is seen in the overall tone of statements. The only thing is confusing — sports functionaries aren’t indignant about the sanctions regardless of their severity but rather are comforting themselves that the punishment isn’t as strict as it might have been. Can this be considered as silent confession of the guilt?

At the same time, we should note that the decision that the Russian squad for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and Beijing will be created by the Russian Olympic Committee became the biggest victory for Russia. Another question is that the IOC will check whom of the chosen to let compete.

“In my opinion, our decision of RUSADA’s Supervisory Board not to accept the claims formulated by WADA was certainly correct,” says head of RUSADA’s Supervisory Board Aleksandr Ivlev. “We assumed that the CAS would accept our argumentation more, but such things as reduction of the ban, the selection of our teams by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee, the permission for our athletes to have a uniform with the colours of the national flag and the word ‘Russia’ were chosen. And fans will be able to visit competitions with the merch and national flags.”

“We managed to address WADA’s claims directly with specific argumentation. What has been published today significantly differed from the initial requirements. I think it is positive news,” Ivlev told TASS.

Russia may be mentioned and the flag may be used: sanctions are softer than in Pyeongchang

It became known on the eve that the CAS anyway permitted Russian athletes to wear clothes with the name of the country as well as apply colours of the national flag to the uniform at the Olympic Games and world championships.

Yes, corresponding international sports federations will choose the uniform athletes will participate in the competitions. However, the Russians will be allowed to mention Russia on the uniform but only in case it will clarify in letters that have the same size or bigger that a neutral athlete wears this uniform.

That’s to say, approximately the same will happen in Tokyo and Beijing what happened in South Korean’s Pyeongchang where the team of Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) competed instead of team Russia. Only the formulation has changed. According to head of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnyakov, Russian athletes will now compete as Olympic Team Russia. Precisely this name will be written on our athletes’ uniform. As we see, the Swiss court doesn’t have any special crackdown or, on the contrary, concessions in this aspect.

But as for the colours and symbol, we even got some bonus from the CAS. The concessions are plain to see, judge yourself: in Korea, Russian athletes could neither participate with their flag nor have its colours of the Russian flag on the uniform — a combination of white, blue and red colours was prohibited. This is why some athletes looked for detours, for instance, by having a “patriotic manicure”.

Because of the ban on the white, blue and red colours, our team competed in a grey and red uniform made by Russian manufacturer ZaSport that strangely won the tender to make the uniform instead of the habitual Bosco. Later it became known that Anastasia Zadorina who was named by Forbes as a daughter of head of Russian Federal Security Service’s Provision Service and President of Dynamo VC Mikhail Shekin was the main owner of the company.

All this is a lyrical digression, but there is a curious fact: the coats by ZaSport had a surprise. It turned out later that their lining anyway contained the Russian flag. Yevgenia Medvedeva who took off the white lining upon arrival from Korea revealed this plan.

Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

Публикация от Evgenia Medvedevа (@jmedvedevaj)

No, our athletes will still have to march with a white flag with five coloured rings during the parade of Olympians at the opening ceremony — the flag of the Olympic movement. However, such a decision can certainly be considered as a rather positive than negative outcome. And the traditionally furious reaction of German journalist and whistleblower Hajo Seppelt only confirms it:

“Unbelievable. „Russia“ can be displayed on uniform of neutral athletes — does CAS really mean this is a neutral outfit? Nonsense — like in Pyeongchang 2018 when IOC/Thomas Bach demonstrated their Russia friendly attitude,” Seppelt wrote on his Twitter account.

Putin at Olympics: minus offended Tokyo, plus friendly Beijing?

Together with the announcement of the final “sentence”, the world learnt another novelty of the CAS. Only one governmental official of Russia — Vitaly Mutko — received his deserved ban in the IOC’s previous sanctions on the top management. As a result, he transitioned into another, non-sports post. However, this time the CAS sanctions have been stricter on Russia powerful characters — functionaries, including the country’s President Vladimir Putin. This means that, in fact, Putin won’t be able to go to either the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021 or winter Beijing in 2022.

Stanislav Pozdnyakov expectedly delivered a speech with a very negative evaluation of such a decision of the CAS:

“The participation of public officials raises a lot of questions. The rule directly indicates the president of Russia. I can’t imagine that the judges support the decision to apply these measures to the head of the sovereign state. We consider such approaches are not allowed,” R-Sport cites the words of the head of the Russian Olympic Committee.

However, there is a “but” suggesting that the IOC and CAS did their best in this issue to get rid of the full responsibility for such a serious decision not to make the already seriously hit Russia too angry. They left some loophole — the Russian president anyway can go to the Olympic Games and the FIFA WC in Qatar if he receives a personal invitation.

In this case, one can already bet where Putin will anyway be invited and where not.

Obviously, the Japanese side won’t make such a friendly step — Tokyo doesn’t really like the figure of the Russian president who recently adopted amendments to the Constitution banning division of Russian territories. This means that the talks on the cession of the Kuril Islands weren’t crowned with success for the Japanese again.

China is another case. Here the Russian lobby uses all possible channels so that Xi Jinping will issue a corresponding invitation. Qatar remains an unpredictable case for the Kremlin. This country is known for being a sphere of influence of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates whose leaders though shake Vladimir Putin’s hand during talks but certainly have a bone to pick regarding oil behind him — too many common interests. So here the question mark can be left here.

By Erik Dobrolyubov

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