Explained: Watered Down Doping Ban On Russia Faces Flak

Many athletes have also called CAS' decision to halve Russia's doping ban disappointing and unfair towards clean athletes.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has halved Russia's four-year ban for tampering with evidence submitted to officials investigating state-sponsored doping in a ruling which has been criticised by many in the sporting world.

The CAS has ruled that Russia will not be allowed to send its teams to the next two Olympics and at any world championships for the next two years. However, Russian athletes and teams can still qualify and participate in the events provided they have not been banned for doping.

Russia had been banned for four years by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2019 for manipulating evidence in a RUSADA (Russian Anit-Doping Agency) laboratory database it had handed over to officials investigating it's long-running doping scandal.

What does CAS' ruling mean for Russia?

The CAS has ruled that Russia will not have any representation at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and any world championship held by a WADA-affiliated organisation. Russian government officials will also not be allowed to attend the Olympics and World Championships.

RUSADA has also been ordered to pay $1,270,000 to WADA as well as a fine of $100,000 and 400,000 Swiss Francs towards legal costs.

Russian athletes can participate on the condition that their uniform does not feature the Russian flag and the Russian national anthem won't be played in medal ceremonies.

CAS' ruling also applies to team sports which would mean that should Russia qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, they will have to play as neutral athletes.

Why are athletes and national federations criticisng the judgement?

The Athletics Association, an independent body representing track and field athletes, termed the ruling a "farcical facade" and called it a "dark day for clean sport". Many athletes have also called the ruling disappointing and unfair towards clean athletes.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency slammed the CAS' ruling with CEO Travis Tygart calling it a "significant loss" to WADA and clean athletes.

Criticism has also been aimed towards the many loopholes in the ruling. Russian athletes can still wear uniforms with Russia written on it provided the words Neutral Athlete is also prominently featured. Even though the Russian flag cannot be featured on the uniforms, the colours of the Russian flag can be used.

"The Russian colours can be there. It will be another charade like we saw in PyeongChang where neutral athletes from Russia will have uniforms in Russian colours and the only thing that's absent is the flag and the anthem in the event they win," Tygart told AFP.

Tygart also questioned how neutral athletes from Russia will be tested and how their testing database will be made public.

"PyeongChang didn't change their behaviour and we know that because they manipulated the database after that. So to be given yet another weak and loophole-riddled outcome is just a tragedy for the overall global effort," Tygart added.

While the ruling technically prohibits Russian government officials like president Vladimir Putin from attending the Olympics and other World Championships, they can still attend the events if they are invited by the head of states of the host nations.

In a statement, WADA president Witold Bańka said the CAS' ruling is a "clear endorsement of WADA's assertion that data from the Moscow Laboratory were intentionally altered".

However, Bańka also expressed his disappointment in the ban being halved to two years. "We are, however, disappointed that the CAS Panel did not endorse each and every one of our recommended consequences for the four-year period we requested. We believe they were proportionate and reasonable, but ultimately WADA is not the judge but the prosecutor and we must respect the decision of the Panel," he said.

Updated On: 2020-12-18T15:47:08+05:30
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