Three Russian cyclists have taken legal action against the World Anti-Doping Agency and Dr Richard McLaren, the Canadian doping investigator who implicated Russia in a state-sponsored doping scandal.
Dmitry Strakhov, Dmitry Sokolov, and Kirill Sveshnikov were unable to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics after athletes from Russia were banned from competing. All three cyclists were initially selected for the men's team pursuit in the Rio Olympics but the report of McLaren into doping in Russia found that positive test results had been covered up. The trio denied cheating but lost an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before the Olympic Games. The report did not specifically name them but the cyclists said they have "suffered great reputational harm" and filed a lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, claiming damages.
Sveshnikov said WADA and McLaren together prevented us from reaching our lifelong goal of participating in the Rio Olympics, the pinnacle of our sport, and we allege that they wrongly associated our names with cheaters and doping. Sveshnikov added we are asking the court to review all of the evidence and to vindicate us.
The three riders have previously raised questions on them being accused of taking Erythropoietin (EPO) in the McLaren report. The three riders question the evidence provided by the former Moscow lab director Grigory Rodchenkov. In a joint letter, the cyclist said we cannot understand why we were barred from the Olympics due to the testimony of an insane criminal, in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code provisions. The letter also reads we evidently were deprived of any fair possibility just to present our explanations in relation to these unfounded and false allegations made by such a persistent offender like Rodchenkov.
The riders also wrote in the letter that we are still sure that the WADA and the IOC share our interest to protect clean athletes, to fight doping and to clean the sport and the Olympic Movement of dirty scandals and of unfair systems supported by some WADA ex-officials, and to reveal the truth ensuring a level playing field in different sports and in applying severe sanctions for athletes as well.
A WADA spokesperson had then defended decision of the WADA and remarked it is important to bear in mind that Professor McLaren's investigation is not based on Dr. Rodchenkov's allegations but rather on evidence that corroborates the allegations as first exposed via the New York Times.
A few days back, McLaren denied reports by the head of the Russian Independent Anti-Doping Commission that he had dropped state-sponsored doping allegations against Russia. The investigator insisted he unequivocally stands by the results of his investigation.
McLaren was entrusted by WADA with the task of investigating allegations of doping in Russia. It was concluded by his 144-page independent study that more than 1,000 Russians benefitted from the doping program across 30 sports. The World Anti-Doping Agency, based on his report, recommended all Russian athletes be banned from competing in the Rio Olympics and Paralympics. The International Olympic Committee decided not to impose a "blanket" ban on Russia but the International Paralympic Committee banned Russian athletes.
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