Russia has been banned for four years due to doping-related accusations. The ban lasts through the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The four-year ban comes after the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) noticed that a number of positive drug tests were removed from a Moscow database back in January. After months of proceedings and secret meetings between WADA and the CRC they published a final report detailing the entire investigation.
The agency has stated that it would be a good idea if Russia was removed from all sporting events, although it may be impossible to do so legally under the WADA rules. Back in 2018, the agency had announced that if Russia failed one more time to live up to the agreement, which was that WADA would have a say on major appointments before they were announced, the country would face consequences.
Russia did end up breaking the deal, as they hired a new board to oversee reforms at RUSADA, Russia’s drug testing agency. The agency didn’t live up to their word as one thing was said and something entirely different happened. “Something that happens very frequently,’’ exclaimed Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia has been on WADA’s radar since 2012 after a series of doping scandals were uncovered at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Doping is nothing new in Russia. In 2008, several Russian athletes were suspended for controlling their urine samples before the Olympics in Beijing. Many Russian biathletes were also a part of doping charges during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. When doctors reviewed over 7000 blood samples from over 2000 athletes from 2001-2009, they discovered that Russian samples exceeded limits for performance enhancing substances.
Initially, Russia did not have a great reaction to the threat of being banned. Russian President Putin stated, “It would be humiliating” to the thought of not participating.
“It’s a nightmare” Russian figure skater Irna Slutskaya said. “Why because of some unprincipled and unclean athletes should all those who worked towards the Olympics their whole lives suffer, those who don’t even know the word — ‘doping.’ ”
A growing number of people have also shown their frustration over Russia’s sports bureaucracy to not face the issue head on.
Putin has stated that his country plans to appeal the ban and has labeled the incident “unfair.”
The most recent ban still leaves the door open for the Russian athletes to compete under the title “Olympic Athletes of Russia” (OAR) instead of “Russia.” The national flag and anthem will not be included in the ceremonies. If these athletes win any medals, the Olympic theme song will be played instead of the Russian national anthem. Wins will also not be included in Russia’s medal count.
Multiple athletes from around the world have claimed that the agency hasn’t done enough at times to investigate Russia. Even when anonymous tips are given to them stating that doping may be occuring, critics say, WADA usually would sit on it. WADA says it didn’t have the security to forgo a major investigation therefore that’s why they held back. They also expected Russia to clean up the “mess” themselves if they knew tips were reported.
Meanwhile, Russia, which has traditionally been a powerhouse in sports, has been embroiled in allegations for so many years that it will take a major shift in the culture of competitive athletics there to clean up the nation’s image.