By Jamey KeatenAssociated Press
Switzerland’s Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Canada’s request to temporarily ban a Dutch weightlifter from the Olympics because he had declined to make an anti-doping compromise to his drug test results.
The case involving the 42-year-old weightlifter and other potential doping issues was being watched as a test of a sweeping Russian doping program at the 2012 London Games and whether other countries could expect similar treatment from international sports federations.
The arbitrator said the World Anti-Doping Agency hadn’t been in a position to decide whether the weightlifter should be punished for not making the offer. That means the Netherlands can keep its 33-year-old weightlifter, who was sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation.
“There is no contradiction in the rule of the IWF that requires a remedial measure of a corresponding nature when such a member declines a procedure of credible, reasonable behavior,” the court ruled in a statement.
“There is therefore no violation of the ‘Norms of the World Anti-Doping Agency’” concerning an offer of remedial measures.
Canadian Olympic Committee lawyer Alain Rafferty called the decision “unfortunate and disappointing.” Rafferty added that Canada intends to take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to have the weightlifter, identified as Floris Rotter, banned for life.
A tearful Rotter, who was appealing his ban by IWF, said he was “very disappointed” by the ruling but encouraged by the fact the IWF was under pressure to do its job and keep athletes safe.
“I’m a healthy boy. I train very hard. I haven’t killed anybody. I haven’t done anything like that,” he said, noting that he “keeps clean my blood.”
Rafferty said Canada had also filed a case against the IWF in court in an attempt to get the weightlifter suspended for life, but the court of arbitration for sport said it had no jurisdiction in the case.
“Our view is that we will continue with an investigation and every day we can have him not competing would be a positive step,” Rafferty said.
The verdict comes on the heels of a series of rulings at the Court of Arbitration for Sport concerning Russia.
Last month, CAS lifted its ban on Russian athletes at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a WADA-sanctioned appeals panel said the 2016 Olympic committees in Rio de Janeiro and Moscow had denied anti-doping integrity guarantees in the Russian doping program.
The CAS ruling has come under criticism by U.S. anti-doping chief Travis Tygart, who said that athletes in other sports are unfairly subject to punishing measures that were not imposed on Russian athletes.
Wednesday’s ruling at CAS is the latest move in an ongoing standoff between the IWF and anti-doping agencies over what the federation calls “discriminatory” and unworkable measures to keep Russian athletes from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Last month, the IWF imposed life bans on three Russian weightlifters and a Bulgarian weightlifter for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs. But the federation said it hadn’t decided yet on the fate of hundreds of other Russian athletes.
Switzerland says Russian weightlifter Dalmurod Toykov and Bulgarian weightlifter Yanina Starsak should also be banned from the Olympic Games because of their alleged involvement in Russia’s doping program.
The Switzerland Federation sent a delegation to Russia last month to gather evidence of the allegations against Russian weightlifters and demanded that the IWF take action. It said the IWF tried to offer the weightlifters stiff penalties instead of banning them, a move that it said violated the World Anti-Doping Code.
“The difference is so vast we want to see them dealing fairly with this case,” said Robert Loubiener, the chairman of the Switzerland Federation’s sports committee.