Geneva, Dec 17 (efe-epa).- A ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has reduced by half a World Anti-Doping Agency sanction that prevents Russia from competing in major global sporting events.
The decision announced Thursday by the CAS lowers the ban on athletes competing under Russia’s flag or anthem in major global sporting events from four years to two years, a 24-month time period in which competitions such as the postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo (in July 2021), the Winter Olympics in Beijing (February 2022) the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and dozens of other global events will be held.
Russian athletes who can show they were not tainted by the doping scandal will be able to compete as neutral athletes as long as their sporting kits do not bear any of their country’s symbols.
Russia appealed to the Lausanne, Switzerland-based CAS after the WADA on Dec. 9, 2019, barred that country from competing for four years in all major global sporting events.
WADA handed down its ruling after finding that Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) had manipulated Moscow Laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.
WADA’s Executive Committee had required Rusada to hand over that data when it was reinstated as WADA compliant, under strict conditions, following a three-year suspension for a state-sponsored doping scandal, which had come to light after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The CAS, which upheld WADA’s finding that Russia had not complied with the World Anti-Doping Code, has barred athletes from competing under the Russian flag until Dec. 16, 2022, and also prohibited Russia from organizing world championships in its territory over the next two years.
The sanction against Russia has no bearing on the Euro 2020 soccer competition (postponed until mid-2021 due to the pandemic) because the restriction only applies to world championships and Olympic Games, not continental competitions.
Saint Petersburg will be the venue for four Euro 2020 matches, three in the round-robin phase and one quarterfinal.
CAS’s ruling also requires Rusada to make various monetary contributions to WADA, including a $1.27 million payment to cover the cost of that agency’s investigations.
WADA’s earlier ruling found that alterations of the laboratory data prior to and while they were being forensically copied by WADA Intelligence and Investigations had made it impossible to prove if 145 suspected Russian athletes violated anti-doping rules between 2012 and 2015.
WADA’s president, Poland’s Witold Banka, said his agency was disappointed that the CAS had not upheld all of its recommendations but still looked at the bright side.
“The (CAS) Panel has clearly upheld our findings that the Russian authorities brazenly and illegally manipulated the Moscow Laboratory data in an effort to cover up an institutionalized doping scheme,” he said.
“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.”
Rusada, for its part, said it was not “fully satisfied” with the decision.
“Regrettably, the arbitrators declared Rusada non-compliant with the WADA code and set a period of two years” for that agency to satisfy the conditions that allow it to be reinstated as a compliant WADA signatory.
However, it said WADA has been unsuccessful in convincing the CAS arbitrators to “punish Russia’s clean athletes.”
Rusada pledged it would comply with WADA’s conditions and cooperate with all international anti-doping organizations. EFE-EPA