Russia out in the cold after doping ban

Russia has been cast into the global sporting wilderness following a four-year ban imposed by world anti-doping chiefs.

The suspension covers the 2020 Olympics and 2022 football World Cup – but there has been fierce criticism that the punishment does not go far enough.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday confirmed a four-year ban from all major global sporting events, after its independent compliance review committee (CRC) said Russia had manipulated laboratory doping data.

The country is also banned from hosting or bidding to host major events.

WADA said the decision was unanimous and its president Sir Craig Reedie accused Russia of choosing “deception and denial” over getting its house in order.

But WADA vice president Linda Hofstad Helleland and US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart both claimed Russia had got off lightly by avoiding a blanket ban.

Individual Russian athletes who can prove they are untainted by the scandal will be able to compete as neutrals.

Russia will be able to compete at Euro 2020 next summer, and St Petersburg can stage matches, as the European Championship is not a global competition. It is run by UEFA rather than FIFA.

Sir Craig Reedie
President of WADA Sir Craig Reedie has accused Russia of choosing ‘deception and denial’ (David Davies/PA)

Of the Qatar World Cup, FIFA told the PA news agency it had “taken note of the decision and is in contact with WADA and ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations) to clarify the extent of the decision in regards to football”.

Russia has 21 days to appeal against the sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In her speech to Monday’s WADA meeting in Lausanne, Helleland made her stance clear.

“I would have liked to see the consequences to be even tougher than put forward by the CRC,” she said.

“I would have preferred to support a blanket ban. A blanket ban can make the Russian leadership realise the seriousness of the mess they have created – for themselves and for their athletes.”

Tygart branded WADA’s punishment as “yet another devastating blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law” and called for “a revolt against this broken system to force reform”.

He added: “WADA promised the world back in 2018 that if Russia failed yet again to live up to its agreements, it would use the toughest sanction under the rules.

“Yet, here we go again. WADA says one thing and does something entirely different.”

The CRC made its recommendations based on evidence presented by WADA’s intelligence and investigations team.

Investigators found data from the Moscow laboratory handed over to WADA in January 2019 – one of the key conditions of its reinstatement by the organisation in September last year – had been intentionally altered.

The data provided was inconsistent with a copy of the database supplied to WADA by a whistleblower in 2017, in that positive findings present in 2017 were missing from the 2019 data.

Investigators found that some of the manipulation and deletion had occurred as recently as December 2018 and January 2019 – after reinstatement.

Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015 when it was first declared non-compliant.

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