Russia’s ban from international sport for cheating upheld

Athletes not implicated in doping scandal allowed to compete in competition as neutrals

As a consequence of the Cas ruling there will be no raising of the Russian tricolour, or full-blooded cries of ‘Rossiya – svyashchennaya nasha derzhava!’ at world championships for the next two years. File photograph: EPA

As a consequence of the Cas ruling there will be no raising of the Russian tricolour, or full-blooded cries of ‘Rossiya – svyashchennaya nasha derzhava!’ at world championships for the next two years. File photograph: EPA

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Russia’s ban from international sport for doping offences has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) – but there was a controversial sting in the tail as its sanction was reduced from four years to two.

The ruling means that Russia’s teams will be barred from not only next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo but also the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia will also be unable to host world championship events for the duration of the ban.

However, a Uefa spokesman confirmed that Russia will still be able to play at Euro 2020 and host matches, because the ruling only applied to global events, not continental ones.

And while there will be no raising of the Russian tricolour, or full-blooded cries of “Rossiya – svyashchennaya nasha derzhava!” at world championships for the next two years, Russian athletes who can show they were not implicated in the doping scandal will also be allowed to compete as neutrals.

The decision was welcomed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which had brought the case against Russia after finding it guilty of deliberately erasing and manipulating athlete doping data in its Moscow laboratory in order to cover up systematic state-sponsored doping.

“Wada is pleased to have won this landmark case,” said agency president Witold Banka. “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 institutionalised doping scheme. In the face of continual resistance and denial from Russia, we clearly proved our case. 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. But these are still the strongest set of consequences ever imposed on any country for doping-related offences.

“Russia will not be permitted to participate in, bid for or host any covered event, including two editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and many other major events, for the next two years. The Russian flag will not fly nor its anthem played. This sends a clear message that institutionalised cheating and concerted efforts to subvert the global anti-doping system will not be tolerated.”

‘Proof of corruption’

However, Cas’s decision to reduce Russia’s punishment from four years to two was called “nonsensical and undeserved” by Jim Walden, the lawyer for Russian whistleblower Gregory Rodchenkov, who did much to expose the full extent of the country’s doping programme.

“Despite overwhelming proof of corruption, doping fraud and obstruction of justice, including a brazen attempt to falsely incriminate Dr Rodchenkov through fabricated evidence, Cas has once again proven itself unwilling and unable to meaningfully deal with systematic and long-standing criminality by Russia,” he said.

“Cas reduced the ban by half, allowing Russian athletes to participate in international sporting events anyway, and in effect upheld an already-limited ban in name only.”

In a statement the court of arbitration insisted that its decision to uphold the ban on Russia reflected the “nature and seriousness” of its behaviour – and denied that it had been lenient on the country.

“The consequences which the panel has decided to impose are not as extensive as those sought by Wada,” it added. “This should not, however, be read as any validation of the conduct of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency or the Russian authorities. It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.” – Guardian

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