Russian athletes will be on their own again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s executive committee voted unanimously Monday to ban Russia from all major international sporting events for the next four years, including the Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, due to continued non-compliance regarding the nation’s long-running doping scandal.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,” Sir Craig Reedie, WADA’s anti-doping president, said in a statement. “The blatant breach for the Russian authorities of Rusada’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response.
"Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”
WADA’s latest ban, which the International Olympic Committee has said it will follow, makes it three straight Olympics without the Russian flag. The scandal also barred Russia from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
The investigation began in 2015, a year after Russia led the medal count at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. A Moscow laboratory that was closed in 2015 is still the centerpiece of the scandal. A Compliance Review Committee suggested the latest ban in November due to a number of inconsistencies in data taken from the laboratory in Jan. 2019, including deleting hundreds of likely positive doping tests from a database of results, as well as creating fake evidence to incriminate whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former lab director.
“Finally, Russia’s many doping and obstruction sins will now get some of the punishment they richly deserve,” Rodchenkov said, via his lawyer Jim Walden, in a statement to CNN. "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 U.S. prisons and clean athletes will be better protected."
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency has 21 days to accept the decision or take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"The fact that these decisions keep on repeating and are often applicable to those athletes who have already been punished this or that way, obviously makes one think that it is a continuation of the anti-Russian hysteria that has already grown chronic," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medevedv said Monday, according to TASS News Agency. “Just recently I said in an interview that in this particular case, on the Russian side, too, I mean in our sports community, there still exist considerable problems with doping. It is impossible to deny this.”
Russian athletes will still be present at the Olympics, as they are eligible to compete if they can prove they are clean. A total of 168 Russian athletes competed in 2018, competing under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The athletes came home with 17 medals, including two gold, six silver and nine bronze, although none of the medals go in Russia’s total.