Olympics-Reinstate Russian weightlifting chief's Tokyo pass now, CAS tells IOC

The Olympic Rings are seen in front of the skyline during sunset one night ahead of the official opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

TOKYO (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee has been told to give back Russian weightlifting chief Maxim Agapitov's accreditation for the Tokyo Olympics, days after it stripped him of access to the Games, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on Saturday.

The IOC on July 16 had taken back the accreditation it had issued to him last month, saying Agapitov's anti-doping rule violation dating back to his time as an athlete in 1994 disqualified him from being in Tokyo.

It said officials must not have a personal history linked to any anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) and/or sanction in order to receive a Games accreditation.

Agapitov, also the acting president of the European Weightlifting Federation, challenged the decision at CAS and sport's highest court said the IOC's punishment for a violation dating back 27 years was disproportionate.

"The application filed by Mr Maxim Agapitov is upheld and the accreditation delivered to him in June 2021 for the Olympic Games in Tokyo will have to be reinstated," it said in a statement.

"The Panel found that the evidence submitted by the parties was sufficient to demonstrate that Mr Agapitov did meet the criteria established by the IOC to receive an accreditation... despite an anti-doping rule violation committed in 1994, at the time of his athlete’s career.

"The Panel considered that the criteria in case of any ADRV committed at any time in an athlete’s life was clearly disproportionate," it said.

Agapitov told the TASS news agency: "Justice prevailed today. The decision by the IOC to strip me of my accreditation was a blow, it cast doubt over my reputation.

"I didn’t doubt for a second that I would follow through to safeguard my name and reputation. The question surrounding my trip to Tokyo was secondary to me."

The 51-year-old Russian is also an executive board member of the troubled International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

The IOC's ties with the IWF are at an all-time low after weightlifting was rocked by revelations of doping cover-ups and decades of corruption. That led to the resignation of then longtime IWF President Tamas Ajan last year.

Ajan resigned in April 2020 having serving 24 years as general secretary and another 20 as president.

Several countries, including Thailand and Romania have been banned from sending weightlifters to the Games after official reports of nearly 150 "unresolved" anti-doping cases between 2009 and 2019.

The IOC has repeatedly warned the IWF that it risks losing its place at the Paris 2024 Olympics and future Games if it does not undertake major reforms.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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