Russia’s Olympic ban upheld but reduced to two years

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that Russia cannot use its name, flag, and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years; the World Anti-Doping Agency had proposed a four-year ban

Last Updated: 17/12/20 3:40pm

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Geraint Hughes of Sky Sports News explains the big news coming out of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has upheld Russia’s ban from major sporting events but reduced it to two years
Geraint Hughes of Sky Sports News explains the big news coming out of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has upheld Russia’s ban from major sporting events but reduced it to two years

Russia has been banned from using its name, flag, and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) ruling also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.

Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not implicated in doping or covering up positive tests.

The punishments are less than the four-year ban the World Anti-Doping Agency had proposed.

One small win for Russia is the proposed team name at major events. The name Russia can be retained on uniforms if the words Neutral Athlete or Neutral Team have equal prominence, the court said.

Still, the court’s three judges imposed the most severe penalties on Russia since allegations of state-backed doping and cover-ups emerged after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The case centred on accusations that Russian state authorities tampered with a database from the Moscow testing laboratory before handing it over to WADA investigators last year. It contained likely evidence to prosecute long-standing doping violations.

The CAS process was formally between WADA and the Russian anti-doping agency. The Russian agency, known as Rusada, was ruled non-compliant last year a decision upheld Thursday by the three judges.

Rusada was also ordered to pay $1.27m (£930,000) to WADA.

When a four-day hearing was held in Lausanne last month, Russian athletes and their lawyers took part as third parties arguing they should not be punished for misconduct by state officials not working in sports.

At next year's Olympics, the name Russia can be retained on uniforms if the words Neutral Athlete or Neutral Team have equal prominence
At next year’s Olympics, the name Russia can be retained on uniforms if the words Neutral Athlete or Neutral Team have equal prominence

Giving WADA the lab database by a December 2018 deadline was a key condition for Rusada being reinstated three months earlier when a previous expulsion from the anti-doping community was lifted.

WADA investigators in Moscow eventually got the data one month late. Evidence of doping tests and emails appeared to have been deleted or changed, and whistleblowers were implicated.

The ruling allows Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, to attend major sporting events if invited by the host nation’s head of state.

WADA investigators went to Moscow two years ago to collect the database and begin verifying evidence that would help sports governing bodies prosecute suspected doping violations dating back several years.

Although Russia would be stripped of hosting world championships in the next two years, events can be reprieved. Governing bodies have been advised to find a new host unless it is legally or practically impossible to do so.

Why WADA are ‘pleased’ but also ‘disappointed’

WADA president Witold Banka said the ban will send a clear message that “institutionalised cheating” will not be tolerated, although he did admit to the organisation’s disappointment that the CAS Panel did not endorse every recommendation.

“WADA is pleased to have won this landmark case. We left no stone unturned in investigating this very complex matter and in presenting our case before CAS,” Banka said in a statement.

WADA president Witold Banka said the ban will send out a clear message
WADA president Witold Banka said the ban will send out a clear message

“The Panel has clearly upheld our findings that the Russian authorities brazenly and illegally manipulated the Moscow Laboratory data in an effort to cover up an institutionalized doping scheme. In the face of continual resistance and denial from Russia, we clearly proved our case, in accordance with due process. In that regard, this ruling is an important moment for clean sport and athletes all over the world.

“We are, however, disappointed that the CAS Panel did not endorse each and every one of our recommended consequences for the four-year period we requested. We believe they were proportionate and reasonable, but ultimately WADA is not the judge but the prosecutor and we must respect the decision of the Panel.

“These are still the strongest set of consequences ever imposed on any country for doping-related offences and the award clearly endorses the resolute, process-driven approach taken by WADA in dealing effectively with this case.

“This sends a clear message that institutionalised cheating and concerted efforts to subvert the global anti-doping system will not be tolerated… Russian authorities were afforded every opportunity to get their house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of their athletes and the integrity of sport, but they chose instead to continue on their path of deception and denial.”

Source : Sky Sports