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Russia banned from next Olympics and football World Cup

Russia has been accused of choosing “deception and denial” rather than getting its house in order over drugs.

Russia has been banned from the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup.

The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday confirmed a four-year ban from all major global sporting events, after considering recommendations from its independent compliance review committee (CRC) that Russia had manipulated laboratory doping data.

WADA said the decision was unanimous and its president Sir Craig Reedie accused Russia of choosing “deception and denial” rather than getting its house in order.

Russia has 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while individual Russian athletes untainted by the scandal will be able to compete independently under a neutral flag.

Reedie said: “The ExCo’s (executive committee) strong decision today shows WADA’s determination to act resolutely in the face of the Russian doping crisis, thanks to the agency’s robust investigatory capability, the vision of the CRC, and WADA’s recently acquired ability to recommend meaningful sanctions via the compliance standard which entered into effect in April 2018.

“Combined, these strengths have enabled the ExCo to make the right decisions at the right time.

“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. 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. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.

“As a result, the WADA ExCo has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts.

“On behalf of the ExCo, and of the many WADA stakeholders that supported the CRC recommendation, I would like to thank the members of the CRC for their expert and considered recommendation, as well as WADA I&I and the forensic experts for their skill, diligence and perseverance in getting to the bottom of this highly complex case.”

However, Russia will be able to compete at Euro 2020 next summer, having qualified for an event that will see some games take place in St Petersburg.

Belgium v England – FIFA World Cup 2018 – Third Place Play Off – St Petersburg Stadium
Russia will still be allowed to compete in and host Euro 2020 matches at St Petersburg (Tim Goode/PA)

European football’s governing body does not fall under the definition of a Major Events Organisation under the international compliance code. FIFA told the PA news agency it has “taken note of the decision and is in contact with WADA and ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations) to clarify the extent of the decision in regards to football.”

The CRC made its recommendations based on evidence presented to it by WADA’s intelligence and investigations (I&I) team.

The I&I team found there were inconsistencies in data handed over to WADA in January 2019 by Russia under the terms of its reinstatement to compliance in September 2018.

Eligible Russian athletes will now have to compete under a neutral flag
Eligible Russian athletes will now have to compete under a neutral flag (David Davies/PA)

The data provided was inconsistent with a copy of the database supplied to WADA by a whistleblower in 2017, in that positive findings present in 2017 were missing from the 2019 data.

The I&I team found that some of the manipulation and deletion had occurred as recently as December 2018 and January 2019 – after reinstatement.

Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015 when it was first declared non-compliant.

UK Anti-Doping welcomed the ban on Russia in a statement by saying it was the “only possible outcome”.

UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: “We welcome today’s decision to declare RUSADA non-compliant, and the decisive action by WADA’s executive committee to impose four-year sanctions on Russian athletes and support personnel.

“This was the only possible outcome that the WADA ExCo could take to reassure athletes and the public and continue the task of seeking justice for those cheated by Russian athletes.

“We know however that this is not necessarily the end of the matter. If RUSADA choose to appeal this decision to CAS, this must be carried out with minimal delay, especially in light of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“We welcome the clear and detailed communication from WADA today which is vital in helping to maintain confidence in the global anti-doping system.”

Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said the lack of a complete ban was “another devastating below to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law.”

He added: “There is no disputing that Russia has committed the most intentional, deep and broad level of corruption on the entire sports world that has put money over morals, abuse over health and corruption over the Olympic values and all athlete’s dreams. Now clean athletes, sports fans and sponsors are having to suffer through another horrendous Groundhog Day of Russian corruption and domination.”

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