On December 9th, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Executive Committee unanimously declared Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be declared non-compliant with the WADA Code for a period of four years.
This was made following a recommendation by the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC).
WADA President Sir Craig Reedie made a statement on the matter:
“The ExCo’s 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 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. 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.”
As a result of the decision, the following consequences ensue:
- Russian government officials/representatives may not sit at the WADA board;
- Russian Government officials/representatives may not participate in or attend any of the following events held in the Four-Year Period: Youth Olympic Games (both summer and winter), the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (both summer and winter). In addition, the Russian athletes cannot participate in any of the events organized by a Major Event Organization, as well as any world championships organized or sanctioned by WADA;
- Russia can’t be host of any Olympic-related event for 4 years, and can’t apply to host future events during the four-year period;
- If Russia was deemed fit to host an event, that would be rescinded and another host would be chosen;
- Russia’s flag may not be flown at any event during the four-year period;
- No officials from the Russian Olympic or Paralympic Committees may attend any Olympic-related events in the four-year period;
- Russian athletes may participate in events, only if they’ve not been implicated in the reports, and only if they prove that they’re innocent of any implications;
- In addition, RUSADA must pay all costs that WADA incurred for the investigation, in addition to a 10% of WADA’s income for 2019, or $100,000, whichever is lower.
The Russian side may appeal the decision, and RUSADA will have a 21-day period to accept the WADA decision and announce what course it would pursue.
RUSADA, Russia’s anti-doping agency, was first declared non-compliant with WADA’s rules in 2015, just as it has been now. And Russian sportsmen and women who can prove they are untainted by the scandal will still be able to compete as neutrals, just as they did at the past two Olympics.
The process of deciding the detail of that is again likely to overshadow the build-up to another Games, this time Tokyo 2020.
Some “hawks”, such as outgoing WADA vice president Linda Helleland want a blanket ban of all Russian athletes from sports events.
Helleland said, assuming that the allegations that Russia hacked the WADA were true, they shouldn’t have unbanned RUSADA in 2018.
“The biggest mistake was last year,” she said. “We reinstated the Russians without having access to the data. So what did they do? They manipulated, they deleted the data after WADA trusted the Russians. We are paying now for what we did last year. I am still very ashamed and I think that clean athletes and clean sport are suffering.”
Edwin Moses, a former US Olympic hurdles champion, called the saga “an embarrassment,” claiming WADA under its current administration had not stood up for clean athletes.
“Politicians are making the decisions,” Moses said. “There’s not enough sportspeople involved that are independent and objective. The voice of the athletes, in my opinion, is not heard.”
This decision was made on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Paris for the Normandy Four format meeting with the leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine.
He said that Moscow could potentially appeal the decision.
Putin said the WADA conclusions contained no complaints directed at Russia’s national Olympic committee.
“And if there are no complaints against it, then the country should compete under the national flag. That’s written in the Olympic charter. That means that, in that aspect, the WADA decision violated the Olympic charter. We have all grounds to appeal,” Putin said.
“Any punishment should be individual, and should be linked to what has been done… by one person or another. A punishment cannot be collective, and apply to people who have nothing to do with certain violations,” he added.
“If someone takes such a decision about collective punishment, I think there is every grounds to suppose that the basis for such decisions is not a care about the purity of international sport, but political considerations which have nothing to do with the interest of sport or the Olympic movement.”
And, the fact is that there are proven problems, even Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev admitted it, but he said that WADA’s decision was part of “chronic anti-Russian hysteria” that affected athletes who “had already been punished”.
It should be noted that the violations (by all sides and multiple states) were there, even prior to the first ban in 2015, but the decisions against Russia were made amid the growing tensions in Eastern Ukraine, and the general anti-Russian hysteria, surrounding the Crimea events in 2014.
Punishment for violations is warranted, but punishment that is intentionally made severe due to politics, and with the obvious motive of pressuring Moscow on another front, while other states continue their alleged violations ruins the spirit of the Olympic games and sport competitions overall.
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