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Russia appeal of Olympic ban set for sport’s highest court

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GENEVA — The Russian doping scandal will return to sport’s highest court in November when the nation faces a four-year ban of its flag, anthem and colors from Olympic Games and world championships.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Tuesday its judging panel will hear evidence on Nov. 2-5 in the latest case examining allegations of state-backed doping and covering up evidence.

No timetable was given for an expected verdict in a case which should be heard at the court’s headquarters in the Olympic capital of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The sanctions will take effect when the CAS panel of three judges give its verdict.

The legal fight follows the World Anti-Doping Agency recommending a four-year slate of punishments for Russian sport and athletes last December and declaring the national anti-doping agency non-compliant.

WADA investigators found years of data from the Moscow testing laboratory relating to hundreds of athletes had been tampered with before being handed over last year.

Russian teams and athletes would be stripped of their identity by the WADA sanctions proposal and forced to compete as neutrals at major events such as the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Russia would also be blocked from bidding to host major championships and risk being stripped of events it was already due to host.

The hearing was required after Russia’s anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, disputed the ruling by WADA’s executive committee at the urging of state authorities including President Vladimir Putin.

WADA’s request for the CAS hearing to be held in publicly open court was denied because all parties involved needed to give consent.

The case involves the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee, plus the Russian bodies of both organizations, and ice hockey’s governing body, the court said in February. Some Russian athletes also asked to be part of the legal process.

Data from the lab shuttered by WADA in 2015 and long sealed by Russian security agencies was demanded by the anti-doping watchdog in exchange for recognizing RUSADA’s status again in September 2018.

Russia handing over the data archive in January 2019 was meant to help resolve the scandal that has tainted the Olympic Games since 2008, and in particular the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

However, WADA investigators found evidence Russia edited the data in the weeks before the handover to remove signs of failed drug tests, and detailed an apparent attempt to smear former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov.

MORE: Russia Olympic track and field champions face doping cases

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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