Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Russians in Rio: IOC versus IAAF

Above is an image of how things, in principle, are supposed to work for a Russian athlete to get to the 2016 Rio Olympic games. However, as everyone who might be reading this knows, in 2016 things aren't working as they are supposed to. Over the past few days we've heard two different versions of how things are actually going to work in 2016 from IOC and IAAF. This post tries to make a little sense of the differences.

First, here are some statements from Sebatian Coe of the IAAF and Thomas Bach of the IOC from their respective press conferences.  Sebastian Coe stated last week (at 33:27)
"The eligibility of athletes to compete in international competition is entirely a matter for the IAAF ... It is a very clear proposition that the eligibility for athletes to compete internationally sits and lies with the IAAF."
Thomas Bach, earlier today said a few things that gave a different impression.

At 19:42:
"This decision [by IAAF to create a category of "neutral" athletes] applies to IAAF competitions because in IAAF there is no [Russian] national federation, the Russian national federation is suspended, therefore IAAF has chosen this option in order to allow the athletes to compete in their competitions. When  it comes to the Olympic Games all athletes then are part of the team of the Russian Olympic Committee, and this is a different situation"
And at 20:40:
"If there are athletes qualified, then they will compete as members of the Russian Olympic Committee because only a national Olympic committee can enter athletes to the Olympic Games. There are no teams of international federations there and contrary to the national federation of track and field the Russian Olympic committee is not suspended."
So, I have tried in graphical form to characterize the two perspectives. Here is how the IAAF sees things going:
And here is the perspective of the IOC:
The points of contention are over:

a) the criteria to be applied to determining the eligibility of athletes,
b) legitimacy of the notion of "neutral" athlete.

The former is a matter to be adjudicated between individual athletes and the IAAF (and under the decision today by the IOC, athletes from all Olympic sports in Kenya and Russia). The latter, if it is to be adjudicated, would be between IOC and IAAF.

However this situation resolves itself, it would be wise for IAAF and the various other IFs to "pre-arbitrate" their criteria of eligibility with the CAS in order to establish its legitimacy. Otherwise, there will likely be many substantive and procedural challenges.

Comments welcomed ... this is obviously work in progress on a fast moving target!


Post a Comment