The alphabet soup of the parties goes to the Olympic court in a Russian case

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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One of the most anticipated events of the Beijing Olympics is the impending court hearing in the doping case of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva.

At stake is Russia’s gold medal in the team event and the 15-year-old star’s right to compete in the women’s individual event from Tuesday.

The judges of the Court of Arbitration for Sport will decide whether a provisional ban – imposed on Tuesday by the Russian anti-doping agency and lifted on appeal a day later by the same organization – must be reinforced to remove Valieva from the Olympics.

The venue will be a conference room on the ground floor of the Continental Grand Hotel in Beijing, close to the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

Advocates for an alphabet soup from sports bodies will be in the room or connecting via video link from around the world. The complex system is difficult to understand. Here is a list of some of the agencies and what they do.

CAS – Court of Arbitration for Sport

The world’s highest court for Olympic sports based in the International Olympic Committee’s hometown of Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC created the CAS in 1984 to render independent and consistent decisions in disputes and appeals by sports organizations that recognize the authority of the court. Most American professional sports leagues and college sports are outside the system.

For major events such as the Olympics, the CAS sets up temporary courts in the host cities. A panel of three judges will hear the Valieva case. CAS has nine judges in Beijing available for the Olympics.

CAS is often criticized by athlete groups who say the system privileges institutions over athletes. Decisions can be challenged for procedural reasons before the Swiss Supreme Court.

Sports bodies, including the IOC, funded half of CAS’s revenue – around 18 million Swiss francs ($19.4 million) – in 2020. The other half comes from fees paid by parties involved in the cases .

Before becoming IOC President in 2013, Thomas Bach served as President of the CAS Appeals Chamber for 19 years.

RUSADA – Russian Anti-Doping Agency

Like all sporting nations, Russia has an anti-doping agency that handles testing and collection of samples from athletes. RUSADA is trying to rebuild its credibility after the Russian doping scandal that began for years at the 2014 Sochi Games.

RUSADA is under special scrutiny by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as part of the sanctions list against Russia. RUSADA is expected to regain full status when the two-year sentence expires in December.

RUSADA oversaw sample collection at the Russian National Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg. Valieva’s sample taken on Dec. 25 tested positive for the banned heart drug, trimetazidine, at the WADA-accredited lab in Stockholm, Sweden. The lab notified Russian authorities of the test on Tuesday.

RUSADA provisionally banned Valieva, who appealed. A RUSADA disciplinary committee overturned the ban on Wednesday. This procedural decision is now being challenged before the CAS.

The CAS only decides on the provisional ban. A separate process will deal with the whole file, and it could take months.

IOC – International Olympic Committee

As the mother ship of the Olympics, the IOC delegates responsibility to sporting bodies and quasi-independent agencies which it helps fund through broadcast and sponsorship revenue. The IOC earned $4.2 billion last year.

The IOC retains ultimate control of its Games with Article 58 of the Olympic Charter stating: “The authority of last resort on any matter relating to the Olympic Games rests with the IOC.”

The IOC appoints the International Testing Agency in Lausanne to design and manage an anti-doping program for each Olympic Games.

The IOC declined to comment directly on the details of the Valieva case, instructing the International Testing Agency to file the appeal with CAS on its behalf.

ITA – International Testing Agency

Formed by the IOC in 2018 because of the Russian scandal. The ITA aims to bring more consistency to athlete testing and help avoid conflicts of interest or the alleged protection of star athletes by national agencies.

The IOC has appointed a former French sports minister, Valérie Fourneyron, to chair the agency, which receives 3.5 million Swiss francs ($3.8 million) a year from the Olympic movement.

The ITA’s work at the Beijing Olympics includes announcing new positive doping tests and imposing provisional bans on athletes.

The work can continue for up to 10 years after a competition. The agency can decide when to retest stored samples and can reopen cases as new testing methods are developed.

WADA – World Anti-Doping Agency

The Montreal-based agency manages the anti-doping rule book and the list of prohibited substances. It also funds research into new methods of sample collection and analysis.

WADA was created in 1999 to harmonize the fight against doping with equal funding from sports and governments, which take turns in the presidency. Current leader Witold Banka, a former 400m runner, was Poland’s sports minister when he was chosen in 2019.

The IOC and the Olympic Movement contributed $18 million to WADA’s revenue of $37.4 million in 2020. Russia’s contribution was $1 million last year.

WADA monitors how doping cases are handled around the world and can appeal to CAS against verdicts it deems too harsh or lenient. This includes RUSADA’s decision to lift Valieva’s provisional ban.

ISU – International Skating Union

One of the sports governing bodies that set the rules for their games, appoint officials and organize the events at the Olympics.

The Lausanne-based ISU is also responsible for pursuing disciplinary cases that arise when athletes are disqualified from the Olympic Games.

The ISU said on Friday it would join the IOC’s appeal in the Valieva case.

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