Russia will take action to defend the interests of its athletes that were disqualified and stripped of their medals in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics for doping, the Kremlin said on Monday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this month annulled the results of 14 Russian athletes that competed in Sochi due to doping violations.
They had been stripped of their medals and banned for life from participating in future Olympics.
The conclusions followed an IOC investigation into allegations of state-backed doping among Russian rivals and sample tampering by lab and safety officials at Sochi.
“The main issue is to persistently and energetically take all feasible steps to protect our legitimate interests and the interests of our athletes together with international sports organisations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told colleagues in a conference call.
“One can hardly steal a victory which is already won, especially a success that will forever remain with our hero athletes,” he said.
Russia was first in the medal table at the conclusion of the Games but the IOC choices bring down their amount of gold medals to nine, behind Canada and Norway.
The bans have so far targeted athletes in four areas: cross-country skiing, skeleton, bobsleigh and speed skating.
Those banned and stripped of their medals include double gold medallist Alexander Zubkov, who also serves as president of Russia’s bobsleigh federation, and cross country skier Alexander Legkov, who won gold at the 50km freestyle and a silver medal from the 4x10km relay event.
Peskov didn’t spell out what steps Russia could take. But the federations regulating these sports in Russia have said they’ll attempt to contest the IOC’s decisions in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Despite calls to collaborate with international bodies to help rid Russia of doping, the Russian government have never recognized any state role in the scandal.
The IOC is re-testing all Russian athletes’ samples from the 2014 Games after revelations by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s discredited anti-doping lab, of a strategy to cover up home competitions’ positive samples.
The Sochi scandal is part of a wider doping affair which has resulted in the suspension of Russia’s anti-doping bureau RUSADA, its sports federation and Paralympic Committee.
The IOC has said it would decide through its executive board meeting next month on the involvement of Russian competitors in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail