Abrahamson: Russian athletes denied appeal to compete in PyeongChang

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — For all the angst over the timing of the decision the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration ...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 9:30 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 9:30 AM

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — For all the angst over the timing of the decision the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport issued Friday morning in denying the appeals of 47 Russian athletes and coaches to take part in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which — um, start Friday night — the decision itself was actually straightforward and, to be honest, easy.

Throughout the appeals process, the International Olympic Committee was winning, and one could expect the IOC to keep winning.

Which it did, on Friday, temporarily putting the Russian doping saga on hold while the focus shifts to the lighting of the cauldron and, you know, the Olympic Games. 

Here’s the backstory of the CAS decision.

When it comes to such matters, the law can’t stand things that are arbitrary.

Truth: under the law, you can get away with a lot of stuff. 

But when you act in an arbitrary way, that’s just not OK. No way. No how.

The easy way out: when you come up with a plan, and you can articulate reasons for the plan, whether the reasons are or are not slam-dunk great, then you have a reasonably legitimate chance to prevail.

Essentially, that’s what happened here.

The ruling obviously avoids what would have been the tumult if not chaos of integrating some number — up to 47 — more “Olympic Athletes from Russia” into the delegation here even as the Games were getting underway, a process that doubtlessly would have drawn, and appropriately, worldwide condemnation. 

It also perhaps puts onto the backburner until the close of the Games the Russian doping matter— or then again, maybe not, given the extraordinary emotion the Russian doping matter has elicited. 

To be sure, there is yet more legal reckoning and more political posturing to come with this long-running drama, now into its fourth year and second Olympics — with no end in sight.

For once, meanwhile, the IOC got to claim a win and, at that, a big one. It issued a statement that said, simply:

“We welcome this decision which supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes.”

To go back to what got us to Friday’s decision:

Last week, in assessing the landscape of Russian athletes from Sochi 2014, 28 were cleared of misconduct and 11 liberated of life bans the IOC had sought to impose. 

This led — skipping over some steps here as well as a companion case, which was rejected on jurisdictional grounds — to the filing of appeals from, first, 32 athletes and then 15 athletes and coaches who alleged they should be able to take part in PC2018.

The legal issue was the space between “eligible” and “invite” and, if so, whether the IOC holds the key at its Games to such invites.

The IOC’s position: for sure yes, because taking part in the Games is a “privilege,” and just because you’re not guilty per CAS that does not make you “innocent.”

The Russian position: suspicion does not equal proof of misconduct, and either you have such proof, or you don’t; if you don’t, then you’re acting arbitrarily, and arbitrary action by definition is never consistently defensible.

What the three-member CAS ruling Friday said:

In suspending the Russian Olympic Committee, the IOC offered individual athletes the chance to come to the 2018 Games, as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” and “via prescribed conditions — a process that was designed to balance the IOC’s interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russia.”

The Russian side, CAS said, acknowledged the IOC had the authority to institute this process.

The OAR number stands at 168.

Now for the key:

CAS said the Russian side “did not demonstrate” that the process the IOC put into place, two special panels to vet and independently review each individual application, was “carried out in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner.”

Further, CAS said, there was no evidence that either of those two panels “improperly exercised their discretion.”

Easy.

Really.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312712

Reported Deaths: 7223
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21445257
Hinds20264414
Harrison17785308
Rankin13548278
Jackson13401246
Madison10055217
Lee9959173
Jones8361163
Forrest7638152
Lauderdale7191240
Lowndes6361144
Lamar620686
Lafayette6164118
Washington5318133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460698
Panola4550105
Pearl River4493145
Marshall4393103
Warren4371121
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408876
Neshoba4022176
Lincoln3944110
Hancock376886
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335590
Tate332084
Pike3290105
Scott314973
Alcorn311268
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299277
Copiah296065
Coahoma293979
Simpson293888
Tippah287468
Prentiss278960
Marion268780
Leake265573
Wayne262241
Adams261882
Grenada260085
Covington256281
George246748
Newton246161
Winston226881
Tishomingo225467
Jasper220748
Attala214173
Chickasaw206957
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181833
Clarke177879
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169732
Yalobusha162936
Smith162134
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125838
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102230
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95328
Franklin83423
Quitman79916
Choctaw76018
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 529446

Reported Deaths: 10930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763031516
Mobile40850804
Madison34622501
Tuscaloosa25701451
Montgomery24289585
Shelby23367247
Baldwin21035307
Lee15822169
Calhoun14469313
Morgan14266279
Etowah13806352
Marshall12185222
Houston10533280
Elmore10029205
Limestone9948150
Cullman9640193
St. Clair9589239
Lauderdale9407239
DeKalb8814185
Talladega8199175
Walker7214277
Autauga6914108
Jackson6801111
Blount6635136
Colbert6288134
Coffee5498117
Dale4820111
Russell438438
Chilton4258111
Franklin424782
Covington4111117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia393076
Chambers3555123
Dallas3543151
Clarke350661
Marion3105100
Pike310177
Lawrence299798
Winston273672
Bibb260463
Marengo249064
Geneva247676
Pickens233659
Barbour230756
Hale222276
Butler215869
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184145
Randolph179241
Monroe177040
Washington167039
Macon158850
Clay155156
Crenshaw151957
Cleburne148341
Lamar141534
Lowndes138553
Wilcox126729
Bullock122941
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa106928
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 63°
Columbus
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 65°
Oxford
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 63°
Starkville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 63°
We can expect plentiful sunshine Thursday with nice, warm temperatures. But going into the late afternoon and early evening, a brief disturbance could bring a quick round of showers and perhaps a thunderstorm through the area.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather