In January 2019 RUSADA (Russian Anti-Doping Agency) was declared non-compliant for changing laboratory data they were required to turn over to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).
As part of the ban, Russia is also prohibited from hosting any major events for the next four years.
When competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics under a neutral flag, Russian athletes won 33 medals, 13 of those were gold.
The McLaren Report revealed that officials in Moscow destroyed more than 1,400 lab samples to cover up the doping scandal.
WADA announced on December 12, 2019, that Russia has been banned from participating in all major international sporting competitions for the next four years.
Russia received the ban because RUSADA failed to fully cooperate in WADA’s probe into whether Russian athletes were using performance-enhancing drugs.
The WADA was first informed about Russian teams using illegal drugs (also referred to as doping) after whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov took part in the McLaren Report, which was commissioned by WADA in 2016. The results concluded that more than 1,000 athletes received drugs between 2011 and 2015.
Rodchenkov, who was formally the head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory, had this to say when he heard about the ban:
“Finally, Russia’s many doping and obstruction sins will now get some of the punishment they richly deserve. For far too long, Russia has weaponized doping fraud and state-sponsored criminal activity as a tool of foreign policy. Let every corrupt nation that tries to play from Russia’s illicit playbook take heed of today’s monumental decision. When doping conspiracies become a crime under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, cheaters will be in US prisons and clean athletes will be better protected.”
History Repeating Itself
This isn’t the first time that Russia has been banned from participating in world sports. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) prohibited Russia from participating in the 2018 Olympics after 28 Russian athletes were found to be doping at the 2014 winter games.
Many athletes from Russia found a way to get around this ban. In 2018, 168 athletes from Russia competed in the Winter Olympics under a neutral flag.
Vice President of WADA, Linda Helleland, doesn’t think the current ban is enough and is afraid that they will find a way around it as they did in 2018. “I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down. We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible,” she added.
Russia will still be able to compete at Euro 2020, a football event being held in St. Petersburg, because it’s not defined as a major event by WADA.
Russia has 21 days to appeal the ban so their case can be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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