Olympics-Russia loses appeal against IOC ban

A view of the signage at the entrance of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the day of a hearing on the doping case against Simona Halep of Romania, the former tennis world number one, in Lausanne, Switzerland February 7, 2024. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/ File photo

(Reuters) -Russia has lost its appeal against an International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspension for recognising regional organisations from territories annexed from Ukraine, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Friday.

The IOC banned the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in October for recognising regional Olympic councils for Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine - Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

The suspension ensures the ROC will not be eligible for funding and will not be associated with the Olympic movement, but does not affect any decision on Russian athletes' participation at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

At the time, the IOC said the move to recognise the regional Olympic councils constituted a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violated the territorial integrity of Ukraine's NOC.

"The IOC is pleased that the CAS confirmed the IOC Executive Board decision on 12 October 2023 to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee," the Olympic body said in a statement.

"The IOC EB decision followed the unilateral decision taken by the ROC on 5 October 2023 to include, as its members, the regional sports organisations which are under the authority of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, which constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter."

"The IOC EB decision has been duly implemented since it was taken," the IOC said.

Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which Moscow calls a 'special operation', has denounced the measure as politically motivated.

In its appeal at the Lausanne-based CAS, the highest court in global sport, ROC asked for the ban to be revoked and that it be recognised as a fully-fledged NOC, with all the prerogatives the status entails.

"The CAS Panel in charge of this matter dismissed the appeal and confirmed the challenged decision, finding that the IOC EB (Executive Board) did not breach the principles of legality, equality, predictability or proportionality," CAS said in a statement.

Reuters has contacted the ROC for comment.

Russian and Belarusian athletes had initially been banned from competing internationally following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for which Belarus has been used as a staging ground.

Last year, however, the IOC issued an initial set of recommendations for international sports governing bodies to allow Russians and Belarusians to return, competing as individual athletes with no flag, emblem or anthem.

The IOC has said athletes should not be punished for the actions of governments.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Toby Davis)

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