Olympic athlete from Russia Implementation Group report

We quote the report of the Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group headed by Nicole Hoevertsz. This group was created by the IOC to confirm invitations for Russian athletes, support staff and officials, their rights and duties supervise the execution of guidelines, set by the IOC.

1. IOC EB decision of 5 December 2017

On 5 December 2017, the IOC EB suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) with immediate effect and created a pathway to invite individual Russian athletes to participate in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR). The IOC EB decision set guidelines by which the invitation process for athletes, support staff and officials would occur and defined additional conditions relating to the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Operational guidelines for the implementation of the IOC EB decision were approved on 6 December 2017. These guidelines aimed to clarify the process by which the implementation of the IOC EB decisions would be measured, so that the IOC EB could take a decision as to whether or not to lift the suspension on the ROC.

In particular, point IX of the IOC EB decision (annex 1) stated that “The IOC may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 provided these decisions are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials.”

The IOC EB appointed an OAR Implementation Group (OARIG) with delegated authority to decide on behalf of the IOC Executive Board on sensitive matters relating to its decision. The members of the OARIG

are as follows:

  • IOC Executive Board Nicole Hoevertsz (OARIG Chair)
  • IOC Athletes Commission Danka Bartekova
  • IOC Executive Staff Christophe de Kepper

This OARIG was supported by an internal IOC internal working group composed of the following individuals:

  • Pere Miro, IOC Deputy Director General
  • Kit McConnell, IOC Sports Director
  • Anne van Ysendyck, IOC Director of Legal Affairs • James Macleod, IOC Associate Director
  • Lenny Abbey, IOC Advisor
  • Irina Gladkikh, IOC Head of Winter IF Relations
  • Niccolo Campriani, IOC Project Manager

The OARIG was responsible for:

  1. Final approvals of invitations to be extended to all OAR and team support officials, following recommendation from the Panel referred to in point 2.1 of the IOC Executive Board’s decision.
  2. Approval of all operational details relating to the participation of OAR and their rights and duties in Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 which may have particular public or media focus or have a particular sensitivity.
  3. Monitoring the ethical and behavioural respect of IOC Executive Board decision by the OAR and team support officials prior to and during the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Following the decision of the IOC EB, the ROC (suspended) established an OAR working group led by Mr. Stanislav Pozdnyakov, ROC Vice President (since December 2016) and OAR Chef de Mission, to facilitate the necessary planning and operational implementation of the decisions at the national level in Russia. Various ROC (suspended) existing staff members and officials were involved in the OAR working group.

Below is a timeline that summarizes the actions of the OARIG since the IOC EB decision of 5 December 2017:

  • 15 December 2017: OAR visited Lausanne to meet with the IOC for the first time following the IOC EB decision to establish a framework for collaboration.
  • 20 December 2017: OARIG approved the design guidelines of the OAR uniforms (ceremonies, competition, training and casual), accessories and equipment.
  • 19 January 2018: Following the recommendation from the Invitation Review Panel, the OARIG determined the pool of athletes (389) and officials (309) that could be invited by the IOC to take part in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as OAR and communicated this list to the ROC. The OARIG approved the OAR Conduct Guidelines (annex 2) and Integrity Declaration forms (annex 3).
  • 19 January 2018: IOC internal working group completed the approval of over 150 uniforms, accessories and equipment items for all 15 disciplines.
  • 22 January 2018: The OARIG Chair and IOC internal working group briefed the IOC EB on progress on the implementation of the decision.
  • 22 January 2018: The IOC internal working group met with the OAR in Moscow to brief them on the decisions that had been taken by the OARIG.
  • 24 January 2018: Following the request from the OAR and a confirmation of which sporting quota places would be used, the IOC confirmed OAR invitations to 199 athletes.
  • 26 January 2018: Following the request from the OAR, the IOC confirmed invitations to 195 OAR officials (Ac & Ao category).
  • 27 January 2018: OAR Delegation Registration Meeting (DRM) was completed in PyeongChang. During the DRM, the OAR Chef de Mission entered 169 athletes (on 9 February the number dropped to 168 due to the withdrawal of an athlete), 169 officials, 1 Chef de Mission and 2 Deputy Chefs de Mission (total delegation size of 341).
  • 2 February 2018: OAR submitted an additional 13 athletes and 2 officials for consideration following the CAS decision on the Oswald Commission athletes.
  • 3 February 2018: OARIG Chair briefed the IOC EB on the progress of the implementation of the decision.
  • 5 February 2018: OARIG endorsed the Invitation Review Panel’s recommendation not to invite the 13 athletes and 2 officials submitted for consideration by the OAR to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
  • 6 February 2018: OARIG Chair briefed the IOC Session on the progress of the implementation of the decision.

2. Monitoring of the OAR at Games-time

In the lead up to and during the Games, the OARIG and IOC internal working group worked closely with the ROC (suspended) to monitor their application and execution of the established guidelines with the OAR. A number of meetings were held with OBS, IFs and relevant POCOG functional areas to brief them on the various measures taken by the IOC. The OARIG met on four different occasions to receive updates and discuss outstanding matters.

It was agreed that an objective approach would be taken for the evaluation of OAR using as a primary reference the measures and decisions established by the IOC EB and OARIG and always ensuring that the spirit of the decision is being respected.

The following is a summary of the key areas of focus:

2.1. Athletes and Officials

OAR Integrity Declaration Forms

As requested by the IOC as a condition of participation for Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, all accredited OAR athletes and officials signed an Integrity Declaration form prior to validating their accreditation. This declaration was made in addition to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Conditions of Participation form that all accredited individuals are required to sign.

Uniforms

There were no reported violations of the IOC’s established OAR uniform guidelines or Rule 50. On multiple occasions OAR team officials contacted the IOC to seek assistance and try to resolve issues that they were experiencing with their uniforms to avoid any violations or misunderstanding.

Olympic Village

It was noted that OAR was one of the few delegations that attended all of the IOC and POCOG official activities and meetings (Chefs de Mission meetings, etc.).

Despite having the IOC’s approval, and as a measure of precaution, OAR decided not to allow their athletes and officials to hang flags in their bedrooms and private spaces.

In one specific instance, an incident was reported in which an official from an NOC confronted an OAR official in an aggressive and verbally abusive manner because of their presence at the Games. The OAR official did not retaliate, but did report it to his Deputy Chef de Mission. The NOC in question later apologised to the OAR.

Opening Ceremony

Following the Opening Ceremony, it was reported that the behaviour of the group of athletes and officials that marched in the parade was “exemplary”. They fully complied with the IOC guidelines and were “nothing but smiles as they marched”. More than half of the group (including all three Chef de Missions) remained until the conclusion of the ceremony.

Training and Competition

There were no reports of incidents involving OAR and we understand that they fully complied with all IOC and POCOG guidelines at the training and competition venues.

OAR athletes meet with the IOC President

The IOC President had the opportunity to meet with athlete representatives of the OAR group on 14 February 2018 in the PyeongChang Olympic Village. The session offered the opportunity to the IOC President to explain the rationale of the IOC EB decision and field questions from the athletes. The following statement was read by an OAR athlete on behalf of the other athletes:

“Dear Mr President, first of all, we would like thank you for your time and for the possibility to meeting with us.

We understand our responsibility and expectations, which are laid on us by the IOC, Russian Olympic Committee and our Motherland. We want to justify these expectations. Thank you very much for your credence – we’ll do our best:

– So that the IOC Executive Board could have all the grounds for taking a positive decision on February 24th

– So that we could march in the Closing Ceremony of the Games under Russian Flag and the Russian Olympic Committee would be reinstated

– To help not only us, but other Russian athletes hereafter properly represent Russia and the Russian Olympic Committee not only in the coming Olympic Games, but in other international competition in all disciplines.”

Performance

75% (3 out of 4 athletes) of the 168 athletes that competed as OAR had never competed in the Olympic Winter Games before and the average age was 24 years old.

As of 24 February, OAR has won a total of 16 medals:

Cross-Country skiing

Olympic Athlete from Russia, Men’s 4 x 10km Relay, Silver

Olympic Athlete from Russia, Men’s Team Sprint Free, Silver

Denis SPITSOV Men’s 15km Free Bronze

Alexander BOLSHUNOV Men’s Sprint Classic Bronze

Olympic Athlete from Russia, Ladies’ 4 x 5km Relay, Bronze

Yulia BELORUKOVA, Ladies’ Sprint Classic, Bronze

Alexander BOLSHUNOV, Men’s 50km Mass Start Classic, Silver

Andrey LARKOV, Men’s 50km Mass Start Classic, Bronze

Figure skating

Alina ZAGITOVA, Ladies Single Free Skating, Gold

Olympic Athletes from Russia, Team Event, Silver

Evgenia MEDVEDEVA, Ladies Single Free Skating, Silver

Freestyle skiing

Ilia BUROV, Men’s Aerials, Bronze

Sergey RIDZIK, Men’s Ski Cross, Bronze

Short track

Semen ELISTRATOV, Men’s 1,500m, Bronze

Skeleton

Nikita TREGUBOV, Men, Silver

Speed skating

Natalia VORONINA, Ladies’ 5,000m, Bronze

For the purposes of all historical files, the results and medals earned by OAR at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will remain recorded as OAR, therefore Russia did not participate at these Games.

2.2. Media Operations

Leading up to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the OAR organised a number of meetings with the Russian press, broadcasters and media teams of the Russian National Federations to brief them on the established OAR Conduct Guidelines.

On 7 February, a meeting was organised at the Main Press Centre in PyeongChang between the IOC internal working group and the Russian Media (press and Rightsholders) to provide further clarification and answer outstanding questions. Following this meeting, the OAR Press Attaché took the initiative to produce additional guidelines and clarification points for the Russian media to follow during the Games (annex 4). It was also agreed that the OAR Conduct Guidelines would be uploaded to the Info+ for all accredited media to have access to.

On a number of occasions, the OAR Press Attaché brought the IOC’s attention to matters that had not been correctly rectified in the various public information systems (e.g. the POCOG system listing some athletes as RUS instead of OAR).

It was reported by the IOC Press Office team that the OAR Press Attaché and Russian Media continued to reach out to them to seek clarification on the IOC’s positions and comments to ensure they were not breaching any of the established IOC guidelines. They attended all necessary meetings and were always respectful of the rules put in place (access to our premises, interviews with IOC representatives, etc.). They have not been controversial or provocative when covering the daily IOC press briefings or more sensitive press conferences such as the one with CAS. Several international reporters (written press) also expressed their appreciation of their Russian colleagues.

2.3. Hospitality House

The ROC decided against organising a Russian Fan House, but did confirm that a third party from Russia, SportConcept LLC (https://sportconcept.ru/eng/), would host a hospitality house called Sport House. The IOC internal working group visited the house and met with SportConcept LLC to ensure they fully understood the IOC’s Conduct Guidelines specifically those that apply to non-official Olympic venues. SportConcept LLC confirmed that the house would be open to the public, no alternate victory ceremonies for OAR athletes would be organised, the ROC logo would not be displayed (inside or outside) and no alcohol or merchandise would be sold.

As expected, foreign journalists and reporters visited the Sport House looking for a story and a number of articles were published about it that confirmed exactly what SportConcept LLC had told us they would do.

In addition, and as a matter of precaution, the OAR took the decision that none of their athletes would be allowed to visit the Sport House without prior approval from the Chef de Mission.

2.4. Spectators

Prior to the Games, the IOC agreed that spectators would be allowed to bring Russian flags into the official Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 venues.

Despite a large presence of Russian spectators, there were no incidents or violations of the POCOG spectator policy or IOC conduct guidelines during the Games. We deem the majority of the spectator behaviour as positive athlete focused support.

2.5. Payment

As per point VIII of the IOC EB’s decision of 5 December 2017, the ROC was to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC on the investigations and to contribute to the establishment of the International Testing Agency (ITA) for the total sum of USD 15 million. The ROC completed this payment in full on 20 February 2018.

2.6. Anti-Doping Rule Violations

On 20 February 2018, it was confirmed that an Anti-Doping Rule violation (ADRV) was committed by Alexander Krushelnitsky, a bronze medallist in mixed doubles curling.

Prior to the positive test results for Meldonium on 12 and 13 February 2018, the athlete was tested numerous times and for the last time on 22 January 2018 and results were negative. Due to the recently established anti-doping law in Russia (2016) and other factors related to the case that the OAR deemed suspicious, an independent criminal investigation was launched.

Following the confirmation that both the A and B samples were positive and prior to the CAS hearing scheduled for 22 February, the athlete took the decision not to contest the results or the fact that he committed an ADRV. Given this, the CAS hearing was not held. The athlete was immediately removed from the OAR delegation and his participation at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Games was cancelled (including all results). The medals of both the athlete and his partner were returned on 22 February 2018. The positive cooperation of the athletes and OAR made it possible for the medals to be reallocated during the Games on 24 February 2018.

On 24 February 2018, it was confirmed that an Anti-Doping Rule violation (ADRV) was committed by Nadezhda Sergeeva, a bobsleigh athlete.

Prior to the positive test results for Trimetazidine on 18 February 2018, the athlete was tested numerous times and for the last time on 13 February 2018 and results were negative.

The athlete took the decision not to request a B sample or to contest the results of the A sample. Given this, the CAS hearing was not held. The athlete was immediately removed from the OAR delegation and her participation at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Games was cancelled (including all results).

Based on the information available, the OARIG noted that these ADRVs were individual and isolated cases that did not show a pattern of systematic organised doping activity.

3. Additional elements for consideration

The following additional elements could be considered as over and above the criteria that was outlined in the previous section:

3.1. Legal challenges to IOC decisions

Following the decisions of the IOC, a number of cases were opened with the CAS and civil courts in Switzerland.

IOC Disciplinary Commission chaired by Mr Denis Oswald

Following the findings of the IOC Disciplinary Commission chaired by Mr Denis Oswald, the IOC took the decision to ban 43 Russian athletes for life from the Olympic Games. 42 of them decided to appeal the IOC’s decision with the CAS (CAS 2018 Aleksandr Zubkov et al. v. IOC).

On 1 February 2018, the CAS took a decision on the appeal for 39 of the 42 athletes (decisions on the three remaining athletes will be taken at a later date). Of those 39 athletes, the CAS overturned the IOC decision for 28 athletes and partially upheld the appeals of another 11 athletes.

On 2 February 2018, the IOC asked the ROC to confirm if they planned to request an invitation for these athletes. The ROC requested that 15 of the athletes (13 as athletes and 2 as coaches) be considered for an OAR invitation for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. On 4 February 2018, the Invitation Review Panel convened to consider the request made by the ROC. Following the Panel’s review, the OARIG met to take a final decision. Considering all the elements available and the recommendation of the Panel, the OARIG chose not to extend an invitation to any of the 15 individuals. This was communicated to the ROC on 5 February.

On 6 February 2018, all 15 individuals appealed the IOC’s decision before the CAS (CAS OG 18/03 Alexander Legkov et al. v. IOC) ad hoc and filed a request for provisional measures before a civil court in Switzerland. On 9 February, the CAS ad hoc dismissed the appeal of the 15 individuals. The proceedings before the civil courts in Switzerland were subsequently withdrawn.

As it stands today, the CAS has yet to take a decision on the 3 remaining athletes sanctioned by the IOC Disciplinary Commission, Yana Romana, Olga Vilukhina and Olga Zaytseva (all biathlon).

Additional cases with the CAS and Lausanne District and Civil Court

Three additional cases where appealed before CAS by athletes and officials who were not deemed eligible by the IOC to participate in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 (communicated on 19 January 2018). In two cases, athletes also requested provisional measures before the Swiss court.

  • CAS 2017/A/5554 Tatyana Borodulina et al. v. IOC (6 athletes) – appealed to the CAS ordinary division against the 5 December decision and requested provisional measures before the Swiss civil court and appealed against the IOC “non-invitation” to the CAS ad hoc in PyeongChang.

        o Case on provisional measures was dismissed by the Swiss Civil court on 2 February.
o CAS ad hoc rejected jurisdiction, as the dispute was outside of its jurisdiction period.
o Case ultimately withdrawn before the CAS ordinary division.
o We consider this file as closed.

  • CAS 2017/A/5492 Danil Akimov et al. v. IOC (14 coaches) – all appealed to the CAS ordinary division in Lausanne against the 5 December decision, out of which 7 also appealed to CAS ad hoc in PyeongChang against the IOC “non-invitation”. All also requested provisional measures before the CAS ordinary division.o CAS ad hoc rejected jurisdiction, as the dispute arose outside of its jurisdiction period.
    o CAS ordinary division rejected the request for provisional measures on 9 February.
    o Appeal against the 5 December decision ultimately withdrawn before the CAS ordinary division.
    o We consider this file as closed.
  • CAS OG 18/02 Victor Ahn et al. v. IOC (32 athletes) – appealed to CAS ad hoc in PyeongChang and reported provisional measures before the Lausanne district court against the IOC’s “non- invitation” to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

        o Dismissed by the CAS ad hoc on 9 February.
o The proceedings before the Lausanne court were subsequently withdrawn.
o We consider this file as closed.

Vitaly Mutko (CAS 2017/A/5498 Vitaly Mutko vs IOC)

On 26 December 2017, Vitaly Mutko appealed to the CAS the IOC’s decision to ban him for life from the Olympic Games. The Appellant (Mr Mutko) has been asked to file his appeal brief on or before 15 March 2018. The respondent (IOC) shall file its answer on or before 16 April 2018.

3.2. Reaction to CAS decisions

Following the CAS decisions on 1 and 9 February 2018, we noted that multiple Russian politicians spoke out negatively against the decision of the CAS and further criticised the IOC.

As published on the Russian government website on 1 February 2018, the transcript of a government meeting includes the following statements made by Vitaly Mutko:

  • “The Ministry of Sport and the Russian Olympic Committee provided full support to athletes and hired the best lawyers and experts, who proved the innocence of the athletes in the trial.”
  • “If the IOC does not invite them, then they will be supported in various lawsuits in the CAS and other relevant courts. Several such lawsuits have already been filed.”

3.3. Feedback from athletes and IOC members

On 3 February, the IOC President invited the athletes and officials competing in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 for a questions and answer session at the Olympic Village with himself, Nicole Hoevertsz, Angela Ruggiero and Denis Oswald on the IOC EB decision.

Following this meeting, the President held a conference call with athletes from the IOC Athlete’s Commission, WADA Athlete’s Commission, representatives of the five Continental Athlete Commissions, the Athlete Commissions of all winter IFs and the top 25 most successful NOCs (per medal table from Sochi).

Both meetings were appreciated by the athletes and all NOCs that took part. The main points raised related to the criteria and process used to determine the pool of eligible OAR athletes, the 1 February 2018 CAS decision and the measures being taken by the IOC to ensure a case of systematic manipulation does not happen again.

Throughout the period of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, conversations and meetings were held with participating athletes and IOC members on the broader Russia situation and the OAR participation at the Games. Most comments received indicated a broad support for the group of OAR athletes and officials competing at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and, in a number of cases, good behaviour was acknowledged. The feedback also indicated that the reinstatement of the ROC was needed to keep the unity of the Olympic Family and should hopefully be achieved in the near future. It was evident that the decision of the IOC EB to potentially reinstate the ROC at the Closing ceremony was controversial.

4. Conclusion

On 5 December 2017, the IOC Executive Board suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) with immediate effect and created a pathway to invite individual Russian athletes to participate in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR). The IOC EB decision set guidelines by which the invitation process for athletes, support staff and officials would occur and defined additional conditions relating to the suspension of the ROC.

The OAR Implementation Group (OARIG) was established with the objective to monitor and evaluate the behaviour of the OAR delegation prior to and during the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The OARIG’s mandate was to assess the behaviour of the OAR delegation and make a recommendation to the IOC EB as to whether or not to lift the suspension on the ROC.

The ROC has not challenged the IOC EB decision, they have apologised publicly, worked in the implementation of the OAR through developing behaviour guidelines for their athletes and paid the amount of USD15 million as a contribution to the global efforts in the fight against anti-doping.

Following a detailed analysis, the OARIG acknowledges that the behaviour and collaboration of the OAR delegation, especially the athletes and the OAR Chef de Mission, has been respectful and that they have followed the spirit of the IOC EB decision throughout the entire period of the Games.

The OARIG would like to commend the athletes and officials from the OAR delegation that participated in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 for responding in a positive and constructive way despite the difficult circumstances created by the suspension of the ROC and the consequences of this decision.

Two members of the OAR delegation were, however, found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) during the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Based on the information available, the OARIG noted that these ADRVs were individual and isolated cases that did not show a pattern of systematic organised doping activity. Despite a good collaboration from the OAR delegation to respond to these ADRV cases in a prompt and transparent way, the OARIG were convinced that these cases caused significant concern because they represent a violation of the IOC EB decision.

It is very important to note that legal challenges against the IOC decisions and public criticisms from some sectors of Russian society and Government were duly considered. The OARIG noted that the ROC was not a party to the legal challenges against the IOC.

Taking into consideration the two paragraphs above, the OARIG recommends that the suspension of the ROC not be lifted at the Closing Ceremony on 25 February 2018 and conditions applying to the OAR delegation remain in place. For the purposes of historical files, the results and medals earned by OAR at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will remain recorded as OAR, therefore the ROC will not have participated at these Games.

Considering this, the OARIG recommends lifting the ROC suspension once all results of the doping tests of the OAR athletes during the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 have been confirmed as negative. Should an additional ADRV be found, the OARIG recommends that the IOC EB reviews the circumstances of the new case in order to take the appropriate decision.