MOSCOW — Russia could try to overturn doping bans against its athletes in civil courts, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said Monday.
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.
The IOC disciplinary commission is due to rule on several other Russian athletes in the near future.
“We will support our athletes and if this continues, then we will turn to the civil judicial system,” Mutko said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
Mutko 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 medalist 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.