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Russia eyes civil lawsuits to overturn doping bans

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko says the country could try to overturn doping bans against its athletes in civil courts. The IOC banned two Russian cross-country skiers last week, stripping a gold medal from one.

'We will support our athletes,' deputy PM Vitaly Mutko says

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said the country could file civil lawsuits to overturn recent doping bans. (Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press)

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko says the country could try to overturn doping bans against its athletes in civil courts.

The International Olympic Committee banned two Russian cross-country skiers last week, stripping a gold medal from one. Those were the first Olympic rulings based on allegations that Russia operated a doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Mutko says "we will support our athletes and if this continues, then we will turn to the civil judicial system."

Mutko, speaking in comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass, didn't specify where Russia planned to file lawsuits, nor which government bodies or sports federations could be the plaintiffs.

Russia has repeatedly denied it has ever provided any state support for doping.

The cross-country skiers, including Sochi gold medallist Alexander Legkov, are already planning an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Civil courts in Switzerland, where both the IOC and CAS are based, have historically been reluctant to accept cases before all appeals before CAS and other sports bodies have been exhausted.

Even then, it's rare for the Swiss Federal Tribunal — the country's supreme court — to overturn a sporting verdict. The tribunal last year rejected a Russian application to allow its athletes to compete at the Paralympics after the team was banned when a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation alleged widespread doping.

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