Russian cyclists fail with Canadian lawsuit over Rio 2016 exclusion
Three Russian cyclists have been unsuccessful in a legal case against the World Anti-Doping Agency and Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren relating to their exclusion from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Kirill Sveshnikov (pictured, second from right), Dmitry Strakhov and Dmitry Sokolov claimed damages after the International Olympic Committee barred them from taking part in the games on the back of the independent report by McLaren, commissioned by WADA, which alleged widespread doping violations in Russia.
After a failed appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, the trio took their case to the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, Canada in 2017 (WADA is based in Montreal), but it was dismissed last month, WADA announced today.
WADA said that the Toronto court had ruled that the issues raised by the cyclists “were essentially sports-related matters that fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of, and had to be resolved by, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.”
It added that the court had also concluded that the filing of the claim in Ontario was “an abuse of process.”
WADA and McLaren were awarded costs, and the appeal period has now expired.
The three Russians, who had been selected for the men’s team pursuit at Rio 2016, were not named in the McLaren report, but were barred from taking part, and failed with appeals to CAS prior to the games.
They claimed that the report “unfairly implicated them” and, having been excluded from the Olympics, had suffered “great reputational harm.”
However, WADA has cited Ontario judge Mario Faieta saying: “This was a dispute that the plaintiffs placed before the CAS for adjudication. Having failed to obtain a declaration from the IOC that they be granted entry to Rio 2016, the plaintiffs should not be permitted to re-litigate the factual matrix of this dispute in this court by dressing up it up as a tort claim.”
He added: “To allow this action to proceed would undermine the Olympic Movement and, in particular, the dispute resolution provisions found in the Olympic Charter by signalling to the international community that domestic courts are willing to entertain disputes that, at their core, are matters connected to the Olympic Games that should be determined exclusively by a specialised tribunal in accordance with the provisions of the Olympic Charter or other provisions approved by the IOC.”
The ruling has been welcomed by WADA director general Olivier Niggli who said: “It is an important ruling that upholds CAS decisions, which are accepted and supported by the entire sports movement. This judgement rightly closes the door on attempts to re-litigate matters through the filing of domestic claims.”
McLaren, who teaches law at Western University in Ontario, added: “I am pleased that this case is over. Our investigation was thorough, professional and our findings were beyond question. CAS is an independent institution specifically set up to resolve sports-related disputes. The plaintiffs’ claims always belonged there for resolution. Not in the provincial court system.”Sportcal