The Invitation Review Panel and the Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group (OARIG) have taken a key step in the process of inviting clean Russian athletes to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Following intensive weeks of work by the Independent Invitation Review Panel members, in which they went into detailed consideration of each individual athlete, they have established a pool of clean athletes from which athletes to be invited by the IOC to take part in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia” (OAR) can be chosen. More than 80 per cent of the athletes in this pool did not compete at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. This shows that this is a new generation of Russian athletes.
Today, the OARIG, the delegation which was authorised by the IOC Executive Board (EB) last December, has formally approved this pool. The invitations can be issued only at the OAR Delegation Registration Meeting (DRM) on 27 January 2018 in PyeongChang. Therefore, a final list of invited athletes cannot be published before that date.
As of today, the original pre-registration pool of 500 athletes has already been reduced by 111 by the Panel. For others in the remaining pool of athletes, pre-conditions such as further pre-Games tests and reanalysis from stored samples have been required. Only if these requirements are met can the athletes be considered for invitation. No athlete who has been sanctioned by the Oswald Commission is still in the pool.
The suspended Russian Olympic Committee, with which a working relationship needed to be established for the implementation of the IOC sanctions, can now start proposing which of the clean athletes can fill the earned quota places by sport, discipline and event. Therefore, only a limited number of athletes can be chosen from the current pool. As the qualification process is still ongoing and more preconditions have to be met by some of the athletes, it is still not possible to project how many athletes will participate in PyeongChang in the OAR group.
The Invitation Review Panel is chaired by Dr Valérie Fourneyron, the Chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA) and former French Sports Minister. It includes Mr Günter Younger, Head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Intelligence and Investigations Department; Mr Pedro Goncalves, GAISF DFSU Project Manager in charge of the Pre-Games Testing Task Force secretariat; and Dr Richard Budgett, Olympic rowing champion and IOC Medical and Scientific Director.
In its 5 December 2017 decision, the IOC EB deliberately did not limit this Independent Panel to a list of criteria to determine the invitation list. The IOC entrusted this group to use all the available intelligence-gathering, medical and scientific elements from WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) and the recently recovered Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) database of the former WADA-accredited Moscow Laboratory; along with the Pre-Games testing data. As a result, the Panel conducted an in-depth individual and anonymous review of each case, and was empowered to use its full discretion. The IOC has full confidence in these internationally recognised experts and their procedure.
Dr Fourneyron said: “The Invitation Review Panel took its task very seriously. All our decisions were taken by consensus of the Panel for each individual athlete, all of which were reviewed anonymously. It was not easy to put this list together, but we wanted to be absolutely sure that only clean athletes from Russia can be invited to participate in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. We have been carefully looking into all the evidence provided by the McLaren and the Schmid Reports, by the Disciplinary Commission of Denis Oswald, information provided by various departments of the World Anti-Doping Agency and intelligence provided by Olympic Winter Sports Federations and the Pre-Games Testing Taskforce. In addition, the Panel decided to add further pre-Games testing requirements.”
She continued, saying: “Throughout the current winter season, this chosen group of Russian athletes have gone through the most rigorous testing worldwide as a result of the recommended Pre-Games Testing Task Force. On average, they have had more tests since April 2017 than athletes from any other countries. None have been suspended for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) in the past. This means that a number of Russian athletes will not be on the list. Our work was not about numbers, but to ensure that only clean athletes would be on the list.”
In a second step, the list provided by the Invitation Review Panel was assessed and accepted by the OARIG, which is chaired by IOC EB Member Nicole Hoevertsz and includes IOC Athletes’ Commission Member Danka Bartekova and IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper. According to the EB decision from 5 December 2017, this group, “at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list”.
Chair Nicole Hoevertsz said: “Our group approved the list unanimously. I would like to thank the Invitation Review Panel for its diligent work. It went into many individual details to come to its conclusions. The result is in the spirit of the decision of the IOC Executive Board, and in the interests of the clean athletes, the Olympic Movement and Russia. We are confident that it provides a pathway for a new generation of clean Russian athletes to compete at the Games in PyeongChang and thereafter.”
The Invitation Review Panel and the OARIG also looked at the list of Russian coaches and officials. The Invitation Review Panel had decided to limit its decisions to coaches and medical doctors associated with athletes who have been sanctioned by the Oswald Commission. As such, the Panel recommended that 51 coaches and 10 medical staff cannot be offered an invitation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The OARIG confirmed this decision.
In their meetings, both groups thanked whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov for his support of the IOC and his willingness to participate in the upcoming Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearings. The IOC has coordinated with WADA, which wrote to the Russian Sports Minister while the lOC wrote to the Russian Olympic Committee, to make it clear that Mr Rodchenko deserves protection as a whistleblower, which we understand is being provided by the FBI witness protection programme.
As part of the implementation process, an IOC delegation, led by IOC Deputy Director General Pere Miró and Sports Director Kit McConnell, will go to Moscow at the beginning of next week to coordinate the implementation of the decisions of the IOC Executive Board. This will include coordination of other practical and operational questions related to the participation of individual Russian athletes.
* The Pre-Games Testing Task Force consists of the DFSU in charge of the secretariat, a representative of the Winter International Federations (IF) and the following National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs): Anti-Doping Denmark (ADD), Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA), United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) and United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
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