FairSport, an independent foundation striving to eradicate doping in sport, has described the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to uphold Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko’s appeal against a lifetime ban from the Olympic Games as an "absolute travesty and mockery of justice".
Mutko, who was Sports Minister at the time of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, was banned from "any participation in all future Olympic Games" by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board in December 2017 as punishment for the Russian doping scandal.
The 60-year-old, promoted to Deputy Prime Minister in 2016, contested the decision to the CAS and documents released last week showed his appeal had been upheld.
The CAS ruled the IOC was unable to sanction Mutko – who was barred from attending Pyeongchang 2018 – as he was not an athlete, coach or an official member of the Russian delegation at the Games.
The Lausanne-based court said there was a "lack of legal basis" for the IOC decision, adding the organisation did not have the authority to "issue any form of disciplinary sanction against the appellant [Mutko] as an individual not subject to the IOC's jurisdiction and regulations".
The diary entries of the key whistleblower in the Russian doping scandal, Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Moscow and now living under federal protection in the United States, directly implicated Mutko.
Rodchenkov’s revelations were confirmed by the independent report of Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, leading to Russia's partial ban from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and total ban from the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.
In a statement, FairSport co-founder Jim Swartz has slammed the CAS’s decision to uphold Mutko's appeal.
"The reinstatement of Vitaly Mutko is an absolute travesty and a mockery of justice," it reads.
"If the matter had been fully litigated, Mutko’s CAS appeal would have exposed much more detail about his role in overseeing Russian cheating because Dr Grigory Rodchenkov and Richard McLaren were prepared to present significant new evidence that has not yet been publicly released.
"Additionally, Gunter Younger of WADA was analysing evidence obtained from the Moscow lab, which would have likely confirmed widespread doping of Russian athletes that could only have occurred with active Government support.
"Despite this factual backdrop, the decision to abruptly halt the litigation speaks volumes about the flaws of the current system."
FairSport Statement on the Reinstatement of Vitaly Mutko, by @FairSportOrg Co-Founder Jim Swartz: "The reinstatement of Vitaly Mutko is an absolute travesty and a mockery of justice". #Fairness #FairPlay #IntegrityOfSport @Olympics @iocmedia pic.twitter.com/jHYIybHzkL— FairSport (@FairSportOrg) 12 July 2019
Swartz added: "To the world, this result will appear to be what it is: a bait and switch strategy to prevent exposure of additional evidence, give time for public outrage to fade and then remove the ban allowing Mutko and his cronies to claim he has been exonerated despite the compelling nature of Dr Rodchenkov’s evidence.
"If this is where it ends, Russia will be rewarded for its weaponisation of corruption, and the result of the hard-fought battle for clean sport will be the restoration of its right to participate in international competitions without one iota of accountability."
Mutko's involvement in the "systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system orchestrated by Russia at Sochi 2014 was not ruled on by the CAS in its latest decision.
His lifetime ban was among the sanctions given to Russia by the IOC in December 2017 following an investigation into the doping scandal led by Samuel Schmid.
The IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee and banned athletes from the country from competing under their own flag at Pyeongchang 2018.
A total of 168 Russian athletes competed at last year's Winter Olympics as part of a "neutral" Olympic Athletes from Russia team.
Mutko was appointed Deputy Prime Minister for construction in 2016 after he was replaced as Sports Minister, a role he had held since 2008.
He stepped down as President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and head of the Organising Committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in December 2017 to fight the IOC suspension.
Mutko briefly returned to lead the RFU in October before resigning in December.
He was replaced by Alexander Dyukov in February of this year, meaning he has no official ties to sport in Russia.
The IOC is not forced to invite Mutko, who has denied wrongdoing, to any future editions of the Olympic Games as a result of the CAS ruling.