The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced its decision to uphold the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) ban of the Russian Federation from any major sporting events. The court however reduced the sentence to two years instead of four.
In December 2019, WADA had announced a four-year ban towards Russia as punishment for manipulating and tampering with doping data at the Moscow Laboratory. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) had appealed the sanctions to CAS.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the appeal hearings only took place last month in Lausanne. WADA’s sanctions could not be implemented until the end of the appeal process.
This means that Russia will not have any formal presence at major sporting events for the next two years. The country will not be able to use its name, flag, national emblems, and anthem at the next two Olympics and Paralympics (Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022). These sanctions apply as well to any world championships and other major international competitions through December 16, 2022.
Russian athletes and teams will however still be allowed to compete as neutral athletes at these events. They must however be clean, and naturally not already be banned for or suspected of doping.
Russia will also be unable to bid for or host major international events for the duration of the ban. Moreover, Russian government officials or representatives cannot attend these events, although a likely loophole is to be invited by the host nation. Finally, RUSADA must pay $1,2700,000 to WADA.
The nation will be able to keep its national flag colors of red, white and blue on its uniforms. This differs from sanctions imposed on Russian track and field athletes. They were barred from wearing national colors at the last two world championships.
CAS also agreed to have the name “Russia” retained on uniforms if the words “Neutral Athlete” or something equivalent have equal prominence.
“When the Russians stand on the first step of the podium, everyone will know that they are Russians,” said artistic swimming head coach Tatiana Pokrovksaya to TASS. “And surely some athletes will sing the anthem.”
These are the most severe penalties on Russia since allegations of systematic, state-backed doping emerged after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The rulings do not apply to continental (European) or lower-level international competitions.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would now consult with international federations on how to implement the CAS ruling.
Article by Christina Marmet
Cover photo by Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia.
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