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The World Anti-Doping Agency’s executive committee says Russian athletes can’t compete under their flag at international events for the next four years, declaring Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency to be non-compliant with its rules. The committee says critical data about Russia’s athletics programs was “neither complete nor fully authentic.”
The ban applies to Russian officials and agencies in its sports apparatus — but it also offers a pathway for Russian athletes to compete if they can prove they’re “clean.” WADA says it now has a list of all Russian athletes who are suspected of doping — including a core group of 145 athletes it says are the “most suspicious.”
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,” WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said as his agency announced the penalty. He added, “The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA’s reinstatement conditions, approved by the ExCo in September 2018, demanded a robust response. That is exactly what has been delivered today.”
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency now has 21 days to accept or dispute the sanction. If it appeals, the case would move to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s arbitration division.
Russia’s well-publicized doping program cast a cloud over its Winter Olympics in South Korea, where athletes were forced to abandon their national colors and celebrate victories without their country’s flag because of the extensive cheating that was found in its international athletics programs. Now WADA says Russia won’t be able to take part in high-profile events such as the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo or the 2022 World Cup because it has continued to provide fake information.
WADA says that in files copied from Russian databases, “some data were removed, others altered and, in some cases, system messages were fabricated in an effort to hamper the work of WADA investigators. In addition, measures were taken to conceal these manipulations by back-dating of computer systems and data files in an attempt to make it appear that the Moscow data had been in their current state since 2015.”
In addition to the ban, WADA says Russia must also pay a fine of up to $100,000 — an amount it says is the maximum allowed under its rules.
Russian athletes could still compete in the Tokyo Olympics next year, WADA says, but they would have to fulfill a number of requirements, from showing they aren’t implicated in cheating to having no drug-positive findings in their records.
Similar to the 2018 Olympics, the new WADA ban means Russia’s flag cannot be flown at any major sports event in the next four years. And Russian government officials — including President Vladimir Putin and other leaders — are barred from attending any major event.
WADA says its executive committee responded “in the strongest possible terms,” short of a blanket ban on all Russian athletes.