Russia has been banned from all the global sports after the global antidoping leaders agreed unanimously on Monday to banish them from international sports which including next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
This is the most severe punishment that has been given to any country for failing doping tests. Many will not be surprised by the decision given the scale of Russia’s attempt to conceal, obfuscate and frustrate attempts to unmask the beneficiaries of a state-powered doping program, remarkable for its sophistication and scope.
Russia will have to appeal the verdict
Confirmation of the penalties, which includes specific bans on Russian sports and government officials and prohibits the country from hosting international events, comes four years after the first details of the scheme that peaked at the 2014 Sochi Olympics were made public.
Russia is likely going to contest the decision of banning them from all sports disciplines, which, even after several independent investigations that have revealed a welter of evidence against it, continues to steadfastly deny many of the allegations.
Russian officials have 21 days to lodge an appeal with the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. If unsuccessful, its ouster will stretch to events well beyond the Olympics, including soccer’s World Cup.
What has angered many is Russia’s mendacity in the face of efforts to rehabilitate the country after whistle-blower evidence helped unravel a meticulously planned and ultimately successful scheme in which Russian antidoping experts and members of the country’s intelligence service surreptitiously replaced urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
As part of the resolution of that case, Russia agreed to provide a set of testing results to doping regulators from its Moscow laboratory. It is that database, which Russia was found to have manipulated, that is at the heart of a crisis that threatens its sporting future.
The WADA board agreed to a suite of punishments detailed in a report from a committee led by the British lawyer Jonathan Taylor which it received late last month.
The penalties include forcing Russian athletes who have not been implicated in doping to compete at a second straight Olympic Games in neutral uniforms and collect any medals they win without the raising of the nation’s flag or the playing of its anthem.
They also bar Russian government officials and representatives from attending major events or from serving on the board of any organization that has signed the global antidoping code, prevent Russia from bidding on new championships, and require moving any international events the country was set to host during the four-year period.
Russia’s denials and manipulations of data continued well after WADA had gone public in September with confirmation that thousands of crucial Russian files had been deleted or manipulated, and that the data that was provided did not match a database on Russian athletes that it received in 2017.
In a follow-up meeting in October to help explain the discrepancies, Russia’s sports minister provided WADA with fresh data, which when studied revealed yet more manipulation.
A rare voice of dissent in Russia has come from the current head of its antidoping agency, Yuri Ganus. For months, as the crisis has grown, Ganus has spoken out against his country’s handling of the scheme, telling the world that he believed thousands of athlete files had likely been deleted to save the reputations of some of Russia’s most significant figures
Russia, perhaps surprisingly, has so far been able to rely on the International Olympic Committee’s president, Thomas Bach of Germany, to escape a blanket ban, the severest penalty that its biggest critics, like Tygart, have long sought.
Bach rejected WADA’s request to ban them from the Rio Games, before backing a compromise measure which barred the Russian Olympic Committee — but not hundreds of its athletes — from the Winter Olympics two years later. As recently as last week, he underlined his view that a balance needed to be struck between “individual justice” and “collective punishment.”
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!