Russia was slapped Monday with a four-year ban from international sports events, including next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, over a longstanding doping scandal, although its athletes will still be able to compete if they can show they are clean competitors.
The ruling by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s executive committee means that Russia’s flag, name and anthem will not appear at the Tokyo Games, and the country also could be stripped of hosting world championships in Olympic sports.
The sanctions are the harshest punishment yet for Russian state authorities who were accused of tampering with a Moscow laboratory database. Russia’s anti-doping agency can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days — an action it has signaled it would take.
“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order ... but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.
Russian athletes can compete in major events only if they are not implicated in positive doping tests or if their data was not manipulated, according to the WADA ruling.
For soccer’s 2022 World Cup, WADA said the Russian team will play under its name in the qualifying program in Europe. If it qualifies to play in Qatar, the team name must be changed to something neutral that likely would not include the word “Russia.”
At the past two track and field world championships, Russians competed as “Authorized Neutral Athlete.” A softer line was taken ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, when the International Olympic Committee suspended the Russian Olympic body yet allowed athletes and teams to compete as “Olympic Athlete from Russia.”