ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov claims the rights of Andrei Makhnev and Artem Shuldiakov were "violated beyond their control" ©Getty Images

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is seeking to reform the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to increase the jurisdiction power of the Ad Hoc Division here as freestyle skiers Andrei Makhnev and Artem Shuldiakov bid to win their battle for a place at the Winter Olympics.

The ROC is reportedly applying to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Council for Arbitration of Sport to ensure athletes have the "right to emergency judicial protection in all matters" when their participation at the Games is on the line.

A last-ditch effort is being made by the ROC to help Makhnev and Shuldiakov secure spots at the Games with just four days before the freestyle competitions are due to start.

The two mogul skiers were unable to compete at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle World Cup stages in Canada and the United States earlier this month after they were deemed not to be inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine that was recognised in both of those countries.

Having been unable to secure points towards their qualification rankings, Makhnev and Shuldiakov finished outside the quota of skiers eligible to compete in Beijing.

The pair requested that two unused quotas obtained by ROC athletes in freestyle disciplines be reallocated to the moguls competitions in order to allow them to participate at Beijing 2022.

The moguls competitions are due to run from February 3 to 6 at the Genting Snow Park ©Getty Images
The moguls competitions are due to run from February 3 to 6 at the Genting Snow Park ©Getty Images

It was one of the first appeals to be registered by the Ad Hoc Division since it opened its doors in Beijing last week, but the panel of arbitrators ruled that "it did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter" following a hearing on Friday (January 28).

According to Russia’s official state news agency TASS, the Freestyle Federation of Russia and the ROC are challenging the decision, with CAS expected to give a verdict tomorrow.

"The only thing we can say with certainty is that the ROC will soon apply to the International Olympic Committee and the International Council for Sport Arbitration demanding that the work of the CAS visiting panel be reformed so that athletes have the right to emergency judicial protection in all matters relating to their participation in the Olympic Games," a statement from the ROC read.

Prior to the CAS Ad Hoc Division hearing, ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov said Makhnev and Shuldiakov had faced "discrimination" after being refused the chance to compete over vaccination rules in US and Canada.

Pozdnyakov claimed the pair had been inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik vaccine – which has not been approved by authorities in both of those countries that were staging World Cup races in the lead-up to the Winter Olympics.

"We believe that the rights of our athletes were violated for reasons beyond their control," said Pozdnyakov.

According to Pozdnyakov, the ROC met with the IOC’s Sports Department in a bid to resolve the issue, insisting there is "a need for dialogue" with the FIS.

Russia's Sputnik vaccine has yet to be approved in either the US or Canada ©Getty Images
Russia's Sputnik vaccine has yet to be approved in either the US or Canada ©Getty Images

"We focused on the fact that back in 2020, after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC, together with the National Olympic Committees and International Federations, came to a consensus," said Pozdnyakov.

"According to the consensus, there is Plan A, when all qualifying competitions are held, and all athletes can take part in them.

"If, for some reason, it is not possible to hold qualifying [events], then a different approach will be applied - the ranking of athletes will be registered at the time of the cancellation.

"In the spirit of this decision, it is logical that if athletes from the Russian Federation are unable to compete for reasons beyond their control, while the organisers are obliged to ensure equal access for all participants, then their rights shall be deemed to be violated.

"We have repeatedly asked our colleagues to propose options in which our athletes would not be subjected to such discrimination."

Pozdnyakov last month called for the Freestyle World Cup at Copper Mountain to be stripped of its status as an event that counts towards qualification for Beijing 2022 after Russian freestyle skiers and snowboarders were unable to compete due to vaccination rules in the US.

The ROC said he had raised concerns at last month’s Olympic Summit and wrote a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach which he claimed "touched on the issue of recognition or non-recognition of vaccines".

The Beijing-based CAS Ad Hoc Division ruled that
The Beijing-based CAS Ad Hoc Division ruled that "it did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter" as Andrei Makhnev and Artem Shuldiakov try to secure freestyle quota spots ©Getty Images

"Lawyers are giving consultations and we are going to resolve this situation because we can see that we are absolutely right and we can fight for our athletes," said Pozdnyakov.

"It’s only a matter of time.

"If we do not receive a satisfactory answer from the FIS, then the mechanisms of the International Sports Arbitration will be activated.

"The CAS division is already in Beijing - this is a common practice.

"This group should conduct all hearings in a very short time and make the relevant decision. 

"That is where we intend to turn to."

Russian athletes who qualify for the Games must compete under a neutral flag due to sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and partially upheld by CAS.

WADA initially handed Russia a four-year ban after doping data at the Moscow Laboratory was found to be manipulated, but this was later reduced on appeal to two years by CAS.