Russian players Olympic position unclear as team ban upheld

Daniil Medvedev in action
Daniil Medvedev in action

The Russian appeal against an International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ban was denied on Friday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In October of last year, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended by for acknowledging unlawfully acquired areas, in violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

While Russian tennis players could still reach the games as individuals, the qualification rules are murky territory because of team competition requirements.

The unusual wording of the tennis qualification rules appears to leave the final decision on any player being granted any sort of exemption with the committee overseeing qualifying.

Russia had previously been suspended from the IOC over state-sponsored doping programmes.

The latest suspension was instituted on 12 October 2023 with Russia appealing the decision to CAS but now failing to get the ban lifted.

“The CAS panel in charge of this matter dismissed the appeal and confirmed the challenged decision, finding that the IOC executive board did not breach the principles of legality, equality, predictability or proportionality,” CAS said in its ruling.

“The CAS panel’s decision is final and binding except for the parties’ right to file an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days on limited grounds.”

The IOC suspended the ROC, one week after it had chosen to admit Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia—regional sports organisations governed by the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine as members.

At its Lausanne headquarters on Friday, the IOC expressed that it was “pleased” with the CAS verdict.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman stated that the inclusion of organisations under Ukraine’s NOC charge by ROC “constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violates the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine, as recognised by the IOC in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”

“The IOC EB (executive board) decision has been duly implemented since it was taken,” they added.

In response, the ROC accused the IOC of making “yet another counterproductive, politically motivated decision” at the time of its suspension.

ROC filed an appeal of the suspension with the top sporting tribunal, the CAS soon after.

Later in December, the IOC approved the participation of athletes from Belarus and Russia in the current Paris Games in a neutral capacity, except team competitions, provided that they refrained from openly endorsing the conflict in Ukraine.

Only eight athletes from Russia and three from Belarus had qualified as neutral athletes, according to the IOC at the time.

By contrast, almost sixty competitors from Ukraine had earned a spot in the Paris Olympics, which take place from 26 July to 11 August.