CAS Ruling Removes Lifetime Ban for Three Russian Biathletes

The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) announced Thursday that three Russian biathletes implicated for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics had their lifetime bans overturned. The biathletes in question, Olga Vilukhina, Yana Romanova, and Olga Zaitseva were first handed lifetime bans in 2017 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

The McLaren Report included information tying the three athletes to doping. The IOC subsequently ruled the three Russians had committed an ADRV, or anti-doping rules violation. Their individual and team results were nullified and they were banned from all future Olympic Games. All three skiers have retired. 

In the case of Romanova and Vilukhina, CAS stated: “that none of the acts alleged to have committed by these two athletes had been established to its comfortable satisfaction and beyond the mere suspicion of a potential ADRV.”

Prior to the 2017 IOC penalty, Vilukhin won the 2014 Olympic silver medal in the 7.5-kilometer sprint. That medal was subsequently stripped. Thursday’s CAS ruling reinstated individual results from the Sochi Games for both Romanova and Vilukhina. As a result, the silver medal will be returned to Vilukhina.

Zaytseva’s penalty was handled differently. CAS ruled Zaytseva had committed an ADRV for both swapping her urine for clean urine and using a prohibited substance. CAS clarified that Zaytseva would not have a lifetime ban, but would be “ineligible” for the 2018 Games after Sochi. 

Beyond having her individual results not reinstated on Thursday, CAS maintained the IOC’s 2017 decision to nullify results from any team including Zaytseva at the 2014 Games. Zaytseva had teamed up with Romanova, Vilukhina, and Ekaterina Shumilova to win silver in the women’s 4 x 6 k relay in Sochi. That medal was stripped in 2017 – CAS upheld that penalty. Zaytseva was also on Russia’s fourth-place mixed relay team.

Zaytseva won gold medals in the 2006 and 2010 Olympic relays and a silver in the 2010 Olympic mass start. Those results are not impacted by the recent CAS decision.