No Olympics for Russians who had life bans lifted

The Russian national flag (R) and the Olympic flag are seen. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2018

No Olympics for Russians who had life bans lifted

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea: Fifteen Russians whose life bans for doping were lifted last week have been barred from the Pyeongchang Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee said on Monday, as Russia’s drugs conspiracy continued to reverberate just days from the opening ceremony.
The decision was taken after a special panel “unanimously recommended that the IOC not extend an invitation to the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 to the 15 individuals,” a statement said.
“The OAR IG (Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group) confirmed that no additional invitations will be extended to these 15 individuals,” the IOC said.
The 15 were among a group of 28 Russians who had been banned for life from the Olympics for doping, but whose suspensions were overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday.
They included 13 athletes and two ex-athletes now working as support staff. The other members of the 28 have either retired or are unavailable for undisclosed reasons.
The IOC has barred Russia from the Pyeongchang Olympics, which open on Friday, over a widespread doping conspiracy. But 169 Russians who have passed strict anti-doping protocols will compete under a neutral flag.
The announcement comes after the body’s president, Thomas Bach, slammed the CAS decision and called for reforms to the independent sports tribunal.
Bach kept up his attack on Monday, when he told reporters: “This CAS decision is extremely disappointing and needs a very careful review. We will clearly review it. If we can appeal it we will appeal it.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency has also expressed “serious concern” over the decision by CAS, which said it had insufficient evidence to leave the bans in place.
Australia’s John Coates, president of the court’s governing body, said the tribunal would “thoroughly examine” the concerns raised by Bach and would issue details of the decisions as soon as possible.
“Athletes are entitled to have confidence in judicial processes at all levels, more particularly before the CAS,” Coates said in a statement.
The IOC’s Invitation Review Panel, which looked into the cases of the Russians, said it had “additional information” including data from a leaked database which showed “traces of prohibited substances (and) evidence of steroid profile manipulation.”
“The panel agreed that the decision of the CAS had not lifted the suspicion of doping or given the panel sufficient confidence to recommend to the OAR IG that those 13 athletes could be considered as clean,” the IOC said.
It is the second successive Olympics where the IOC has been embroiled in problems involving Russian doping, after accusations of systemic drug cheating blew up just before Rio 2016.
Russia topped the medals table when it hosted the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. But it later emerged that dirty samples involving its athletes were switched using a “mousehole” in the anti-doping laboratory’s wall.
At Rio, the IOC stopped short of banning Russia and instead left the decision on their participation up to individual sports federations, creating some confusion in the build-up to the Games.
Bach also heavily criticized WADA at the time and called for its reform, complaining about the timing of the anti-doping body’s report into Russia’s drugs conspiracy.


England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

Updated 05 April 2020

England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

  • The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28
  • ECB’s centrally contracted women players to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June

LONDON: England’s centrally contracted male cricketers will donate £500,000 ($613,000) to the Board and charities while their women’s team counterparts have volunteered a three-month pay cut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the players’ association (PCA) said.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28 and speculation has been mounting over how their leading players would respond to the situation.

“Following a meeting today of all of the England men’s centrally contracted cricketers, the players have agreed to make an initial donation of £0.5 million to the ECB and to selected good causes ...” the Professional Cricketers’ Association said in a statement.

“This contribution is the equivalent of all of the England centrally contracted players taking a 20 percent reduction in their monthly retainers for the next three months.

“The players will continue to discuss with the ECB the challenging situation faced by the game and society as a whole and will consider how best to support the ECB and both the cricketing and wider community going forward.”

The ECB’s centrally contracted women players have volunteered to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June in line with their coaches and support staff.

England women’s captain Heather Knight said: “All the players felt like it was the right response in the current climate to take a pay cut in line with what our support staff are taking.

“We know how the current situation is affecting the game and we want to help as much as we can.

“We will be discussing with the ECB further ways we can help the game in the coming weeks,” added Knight, who has signed up with the National Health Service (NHS) as a volunteer.

The ECB has announced a 61 million pounds aid package to help the local game withstand the financial impact of the pandemic.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is currently auctioning the shirt he wore in England’s 2019 World Cup final victory to raise funds for efforts to fight the coronavirus.