Russia banned from Olympics, World
Cup and other big events for cheating over doping
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[December 09, 2019]
By Brian Homewood and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
LAUSANNE/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia was
banned from the world's top sporting events for four years on
Monday, a period that includes the next summer and winter Olympics
and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, for tampering with doping-related
The decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is a serious
blow to Russia's already tarnished sporting reputation and a
disappointment for Russian sportsmen and sportswomen, who will not
now be able to perform at the Olympics under their own flag and
WADA's executive committee in Switzerland acted after concluding
that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake
evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that
could have helped identify drug cheats.
The decision to punish Russia with a ban was unanimous. It showed
the agency's determination to act resolutely to tackle the Russian
doping crisis, WADA president Craig Reedie said.
"For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,"
Reedie said in a statement.
"The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA’s
reinstatement conditions...demanded a robust response. That is
exactly what has been delivered today."
Russia, which has tried to showcase itself as a global sports power,
has been embroiled in doping scandals since a 2015 report
commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence
of mass doping in Russian athletics.
Its doping woes have only grown since, with many of its athletes
sidelined from the past two Olympics and the country stripped of its
flag altogether at last year's Pyeongchang Winter Games as
punishment for state-sponsored doping cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi
Monday's sanctions, which also include a four-year ban on Russia
hosting major sporting events, were recommended by WADA's compliance
review committee in response to the doctored laboratory data
provided by Moscow earlier this year.
One of the conditions for the reinstatement of Russian anti-doping
agency RUSADA, which was suspended in 2015 in the wake of the
athletics doping scandal but reinstated last year, had been that
Moscow provide an authentic copy of the laboratory data.
The sanctions effectively strip the agency of its accreditation.
RUSADA head Yuri Ganus could not be immediately be reached for
comment. His deputy, Margarita Pakhnotskaya, told the TASS news
agency that WADA's decision had been expected.
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A man stands in front of the Olympic rings outside the headquarters
of the Olympic Committee of Russia in Moscow, Russia November 28,
2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov last month attributed the
discrepancies in the laboratory data to technical issues.
Russia's punishment leaves the door open for clean Russian athletes
to compete at major international sporting events without their flag
or anthem for the next four years, something they did at the 2018
"I think this is not a catastrophe for Russian sport," Dmitry
Svishchev, president of Russia’s curling federation, told Reuters.
"We will be either under the Russian Olympic Committee flag or as
neutrals. We have gone through this before at the last Olympics.
There is nothing horrible about this. We will not love our athletes
He said there would be additional psychological pressure on Russian
athletes however who would fret about what flag they would compete
Some Russian officials have tried to cast WADA's behavior as part of
what they say is a broader Western attempt to hold back the country.
Igor Lebedev, a lawmaker and deputy speaker of Russia's lower house
of parliament, said on Monday the move was a serious blow to Russian
sport that required a tough response from Russia's authorities, the
RIA news agency reported.
If RUSADA appeals WADA's punishment, the case will be referred to
the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
While the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency and others were quick to
applaud the sanctions, some thought they did not go far enough.
"I wanted sanctions that cannot be watered-down. I am afraid this is
not enough," said WADA Vice President Linda Helleland on Twitter.
"We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as
strong as possible."
A UEFA spokesman said the European soccer body did not have any
(Editing by Andrew Osborn and Angus MacSwan)
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