MOSCOW: The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar over manipulated doping data, prompting an angry response from President Vladimir Putin.
WADA’s executive committee, meeting in Lausanne, handed Russia the “robust” four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying data from a doping testing laboratory that was handed over to investigators earlier this year.
The toughest ever sanctions imposed on Russian state authorities will see government officials barred from attending any major events, while the country will lose the right to host or bid for tournaments.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.
“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.”
Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, but only as neutrals and if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.
Russia will still be allowed to compete in qualifiers for the 2022 football World Cup, but WADA director general Olivier Niggli added that should they progress to the finals in Qatar, “the team there will not be representing the Russian Federation”.
Russia’s participation in Euro 2020 — and Saint Petersburg’s hosting of four matches — is not affected by the ban because it is not defined as a “major event” for anti-doping purposes.
Speaking in Paris, Putin slammed the decision as a “politically motivated” ruling that “contradicted” the Olympic Charter.
“There is nothing to reproach the Russian Olympic Committee for and if there is no reproach towards this committee, the country should take part in competitions under its own flag,” Putin said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also said the ban was politically motivated. “This is the continuation of this anti-Russian hysteria that has already become chronic,” Medvedev told domestic news agencies.