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WADA bans Russia for four years from major sports events

Russia cannot compete as a nation at the next two Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruled on Monday as it handed down a four-year ban in connection with doping rules violations by Russia.

Russia cannot compete as a nation at the next two Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruled on Monday as it handed down a four-year ban in connection with doping rules violations by Russia.

WADA said its executive committee unanimously endorsed a recommendation of a compliance committee to impose the sanctions.

It follows the findings of tampering of Moscow anti-doping lab data before it was handed over to WADA as part of a probe into state-sponsored doping practices.

The practices led to Russia’s anti-doping body RUSADA declared non-compliant again by WADA.

The decision means that Russia cannot use its national flag and anthem at major sports events and can’t bid or host major events in the period. Russian government and Olympic officials can not be involved in sports organizations over the period.

But Russian athletes could compete as neutrals – as in athletics since 2017 and at the 2018 Winter Olympics – if they can prove that they are clean.

Russia is set to appeal, according to senior lawmaker Svetlana Zhurova, in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS.

“I am 100 per cent sure [Russia will go to court] because we must defend our athletes,” said Zhurova, a former Olympic skater who serves on the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament.

The WADA decision is binding because under new rules the International Olympic Committee has no saying any more on the issue – and has said it would not contest the decision.

“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,” outgoing WADA president Craig Reedie said.

“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.”

Russians can now only compete as neutrals again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It is also to be stripped – unless it is not possible legally – of events it has been awarded. Russia is to host the 2022 men’s volleyball and swimming short course championships in 2022, and the 2023 ice-hockey world championships, among others.

But that doesn’t affect the Euro 2020 football championships for which Russia has qualified and has St Petersburg as a host city – with WADA saying the ruling body UEFA was not a major event federation.

WADA declared RUSADA non-compliant in 2015 after allegation of wide-ranging and state-sponsored doping practices.

RUSADA was controversially reinstated in September 2018, under the condition that its inspectors gained access to the Moscow lab and the data from the period 2012-2015.

That finally took place early this year but WADA said in September it was evident – by comparing to data received in 2017 from a whistleblower – that the data had been tampered with before the handover.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join 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,” Reedie said.

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