A Russian court has tried to block a ruling which stripped the country’s best-known bobsledder of two Olympic gold medals in a doping case, but the International Olympic Committee refuses to recognize the verdict.
The Moscow City Court ruled on Wednesday that Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, should still be considered an Olympic champion. A Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling upholding his disqualification is not enforceable in Russia, the court said.
A law firm representing Zubkov said the court found the CAS ruling violated Zubkov’s “constitutional rights” by placing too much of a burden on Zubkov to disprove allegations against him.
The IOC says that won’t stop it demanding Zubkov return his medals.
Under the Olympic Charter, CAS is the only valid venue for sports disputes at the games, except in rare instances when Switzerland’s supreme court can weigh in on matters of procedure.
“The CAS decision in this case is enforceable since there was no appeal filed with the Swiss Federal Tribunal within the period stipulated,” the IOC told The Associated Press in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. “The IOC will soon request the medals to be returned.”
Zubkov was disqualified from the Sochi Olympics, where he won the two-man and four-man events, by the IOC last year. The verdict was later upheld by CAS, which did not respond to a request for comment on the Russian court case.
The IOC case was based on testimony from Moscow and Sochi anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, who says he swapped clean samples for ones from doped athletes, and forensic evidence that the allegedly fake sample stored in Zubkov’s name contained more salt than could be possible in urine from a healthy human.
Zubkov, who says he never doped, retired after the Sochi Olympics and has since become president of the Russian Bobsled Federation. The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation didn’t respond to a request to comment on the case.