The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Thursday that Russia will face a two-year international ban and will not be able to use its name, flag, and national anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years.
The case was based on charges that Russian governmental agencies altered and/or deleted parts of the anti-doping database before handing it over to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigators in 2019.
The two years is half of the ban originally proposed by the WADA in a case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow. The decision was unanimous:
“This Panel has imposed consequences to reflect the nature and seriousness of the non-compliance [to the WADC] and to ensure that the integrity of sport against the scourge of doping is maintained. The consequences which the Panel has decided to impose are not as extensive as those sought by WADA. This should not, however, be read as any validation of the conduct of RUSADA or the Russian authorities. In making its orders, the Panel is limited by the powers granted under the applicable law, in particular the WADC and the ISCCS. It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.”
The ruling also blocks Russia from hosting or bidding to host major sporting events for two years.
That doesn’t mean Russian athletes will be banned from competing in Tokyo or beyond.
Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing — as well as world championships — if they are not implicated in doping or covering up positive tests, according to the ruling. In fact they will be able to compete with uniforms that say “Russia” on them as long as they also say “Neutral Athlete” or “Neutral Team” according to The Associated Press.
According to the report, Russian athletes and teams can also retain the national flag colors of red, white and blue in their uniforms at major events, something that was not allowed at the past two track and field world championship meets.
WADA president Witold Bańka was pleased with the court’s decision.
“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,” Bańka said in a statement to the AP.
The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was ruled non-compliant in 2019 — a decision upheld by the three judges in Thursday’s ruling — and was also ordered to pay $1.27 million to WADA.
The Russian agency can appeal the sanctions to the Swiss supreme court.