Russia plans to file appeal against Olympic ban

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FILE - This May 24, 2016 file photo shows a RUSADA sign that reads: "Russian National Anti-doping Agency" on a building in Moscow, Russia. Russia is accused of manipulating an archive of doping data from a laboratory in Moscow, which was meant to be a peace offering to the World Anti-Doping Agency to solve earlier disputes. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW – Russia has signaled it will file an appeal against its four-year Olympic ban due to World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions which President Vladimir Putin on Thursday branded “unfair.”

The Russian anti-doping agency's supervisory board voted Thursday to file an arbitration case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. WADA last week ruled Russia had manipulated doping laboratory data to cover up past offenses.

Putin said it was not fair to threaten Russia with more doping-related punishment, and that any sanctions should be on an individual basis. “I think it is not just unfair but not corresponding to common sense and law,” Putin said.

The case will likely be referred to CAS within the next 10-15 days, supervisory board chairman Alexander Ivlev said. After a panel of three CAS arbitrators is chosen, a verdict will be issued within three months.

"The ball will be in WADA's court and the issue will be discussed in a legal context,” Ivlev said. “We consider the argumentation to be fairly strong and we will see how the issue develops.”

Thursday's decision must be approved by another panel of Russian sports and anti-doping figures, but that seems a formality.

Most of the panel's members, including the Russian Olympic Committee and Russian Paralympic Committee, have said they want an appeal. Sports officials are likely to have substantial influence over how the case is argued and the hiring of lawyers, rather than leaving it in the hands of Russian anti-doping agency CEO Yuri Ganus. He is a frequent critic of top officials and has said the appeal has little chance of success.

Senior political figures including Putin had also signaled they wanted an appeal filed.