Russia banned from 2020 Olympics


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has made the unanimous decision to ban Russia from all major international competitions for the next four years, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The punishment comes after Russia Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.  It stems from the 2016 Mclaren report coming from the Moscow lab, which uncovered a widespread and sophisticated state-sponsored sports doping network.  The president of WADA, Sir Craig Reedie, stated: “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport.  The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response.  That is exactly what has been delivered.”

Sadly, doping scandals are not shocking news for Russia.  After the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia received a three-year ban beginning in 2015, and therefore no Russian flag was present at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.  However, athletes able to prove they were untainted, a total of 168 in Pyeongchang, were permitted to compete under a neutral flag, referred to as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,”  As of now, it seems the same circumstances will be in place for Tokyo, so the strong competitors Russia provides will most likely not be missing.

Some called the decision a bit severe, completely banning a nation’s flag and national anthem from a Summer Olympic Games, but many athletes thought the penalty should’ve been much more extreme.  Wearing a neutral uniform or winning any event without the Russian national anthem played or having Putin present will certainly have some effect.  However, several argued that the ban should’ve encompassed all Russian athletes, providing no “loopholes” or exceptions. “The view of many is that it’s largely superficial,” said Beckie Scott, a Canadian Olympian who once had her bronze medal upgraded to gold when the two Russians who beat her were disqualified for doping. “It’s particularly disappointing in light of that fact that WADA had the authority and power to impose a much stronger and serious sanction and they chose not to.

RUSADA now has 21 days to accept the decision or send the matter to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS).  A Russian decision will be made when RUSADA meets on December 19th, and an appeal is very likely.  Svetlana Zhurova, first deputy chairperson of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, told TASS News Agency “I am 100% sure [Russia will go court] because we defend our athletes.”

It seems as if the punishment will be altered in some way in the coming weeks, but as of now, the Russian flag will not be present in Tokyo.