Russia has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from participating in or hosting various sporting events, including the 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup.
As we reported earlier, the Russian track-and-field team was banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics by the International Association of Athletics Federations. This ban was a result of a systematic doping cover-up and the lack of compliance from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). The Russian Olympic team was later banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics due to extensive doping during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. While Russia was officially banned from the games, clean Russian athletes were still allowed to participate as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” with neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag. The Court of Arbitration for Sport also stripped 12 Russian athletes of their Olympic medals and other championship wins due to doping.
In September 2018, WADA reinstated RUSADA on the condition that it fully cooperate with WADA’s investigation into Russian doping. However, WADA has now announced a Russian sporting event ban since RUSADA failed to cooperate. Instead of giving WADA full access to data from a Moscow anti-doping laboratory, WADA stated that RUSADA gave them incomplete and altered data. In addition to there being missing and altered records, some falsified documents were even falsely backdated to make it appear as if they had always been in the system.
Now, Russia faces a ban that goes well beyond the previous Olympic bans. First, Russia is banned from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as well as the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Russia is also banned from the corresponding Paralympic Games, as well as the Youth Olympic Games, excluding the event in January 2020. Further, Russia is banned from hosting any Olympic or Paralympic games, meaning that Russia will be unable to bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics. Finally, Russia is banned from participating in the 2022 World Cup Finals.
In addition, RUSADA must also pay WADA’s costs in handling this matter as well as a fine of up to $100,000. Similar to the 2018 Winter Olympics, Russian athletes will still be allowed to participate in the 2020 and 2022 Games, provided that they are clean and can demonstrate that they were not implicated in Russia’s non-compliance with the WADA. RUSADA has the opportunity to bring this case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if it disputes WADA’s findings.
WADA’s decision has received praise, though some believe this ban is insufficient. The International Olympic Committee fully supports the WADA decision, which is in line with the IOC’s recommendation of tough sanctions against Russia. Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower on the Russian doping scandal, praised WADA’s ban, though he stated that more needs to be done, including the retroactive punishment of athletes who engaged in doping in prior Olympic Games. The US Anti-Doping Agency was more skeptical of the WADA ban. After stating that Russia “committed the most intentional, deep and broad level of corruption on the entire sports world,” the USADA argued that Russian athletes should have been completely banned from the Olympics, stating that the current ban leaves clean athletes “to suffer through another horrendous Groundhog Day of Russian corruption and domination.”