This morning, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) imposed a four year ban on Russia that will prevent the country from participating in all global sporting events including 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
Russian athletes unaffected by the doping scandal wanting to compete during the ban will be able to do so under a neutral flag.
The 2020 European Championships are excluded from the ban, meaning that Russia, who will host matches in St. Petersburg, will be allowed to compete.
The long awaited decision comes after the agency officials were permitted entry into a Moscow laboratory and discovered evidence of result manipulation.
Russia has 21 days to appeal the ruling via the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is expected to do so.
Speaking on the ruling, WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said:
“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… 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.”
The decision has been met by praise from many sporting associations and figures including UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead, who in a statement said:
“We welcome today’s decision to declare RUSADA non-compliant, and the decisive action by WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) to impose four-year sanctions on Russian athletes and support personnel.”
“This was the only possible outcome that the WADA ExCo could take to reassure athletes and the public and continue the task of seeking justice for those cheated by Russian athletes.”
Yet, the reaction to the ruling received from criticism particularly on social media where users where certain user have said the ruling is too harsh regarding the athletes not linked to the doping.
James Guy, the two time British World Champion swimmer tweeted:
People have been doping I agree. But there are also clean Russian athletes who don’t deserve this. https://t.co/rDg2Et5Jfw
— James Guy (@Jimbob95goon) December 9, 2019
Others have criticised the ruling for being too weak.
The Vice Chair of WADA Linda Hofstad Helleland in a speech to her WADA colleagues said that she would have liked to have seen the ruling to be “even tougher” than those put forward by the Compliance Review Committee (CRC).
“Unless we impose sanctions that really wake Russian leaders up, hold them accountable and make them acknowledge the facts- how can we be sure that the system will ever change?”
This is my speech at the WADA-meeting in Lausanne today.
I wanted sanctions that can not be watered-down.
I am afraid this is not enough.
We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strong as possible pic.twitter.com/Vh99KQsO3z
— Linda H. Helleland (@Lindacath) December 9, 2019
Pola Schmied, Russian Fashion and Business Student, 27, has also expressed support for the ruling. She criticised the country’s response to the doping claims over the years and added:
“It’s their time to stand up against the system, to save the Russian athletes reputation.”
Russia had been previously banned from competing in 2015 by the IAAF or World Athletics Association -following the release of a shocking report by WADA, detailing a state-run doping operation.
Words: Simone Gray | Images: Simone Gray