Tuesday, December 10, 2019

WADA bans Russia 4 years for drug violations !!


The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) executive committee has dealt a serious blow to Russia's sporting community, banning the country's athletes and officials from the Olympics and world championships in a range of sports for four years for drug violations. The committee made the move "unanimously" on December 9 after WADA concluded that Moscow had tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence and deleting files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.  The ban applies to Russian athletes, government officials and their representatives, and means the Russian flag may not fly at any major event staged during the four-year period. The sanctions effectively strip the accreditation of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which has 21 days to officially appeal the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This shocks the Sports World though doping is not entirely new – we have seen many famous and mighty sportspersons fall from top failing doping tests. Russian officials decried the move and said it should be appealed. "For too long, Russian doping has detracted from the clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA's reinstatement conditions...demanded a robust response. That is exactly what has been delivered today," WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said in a statement.

The reactions were not muted at least in Russia.  Russian President Vladimir Putin called the ban "politically motivated" that "contradicted" the Olympic Charter while addressing a news conference in Paris on December 9. He said Moscow would analyze WADA's decision and that Russia had grounds to appeal the ruling. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev the same day admitted there were "considerable problems" with doping in Russia, but he complained that the ban applies to "athletes who have already been punished." Such a punishment is the result of "anti-Russian hysteria," he said.

The news that shook the sports-lovers is that Russia has been banned from hosting and competing in major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency [Wada] for the next four years.  The implications would be far-reaching.  Once Wada informs Russia of the four-year ban start date, they will not be allowed to compete as a nation under the Russian title, national flag or anthem at any major sporting event.  This would include participation in the Olympics.  While the ban applies to World Cup also,   it does not apply to qualification for the competition, meaning Russia would still be allowed to compete under their own name, anthem, and flag, and should they qualify they would then need to compete under a neutral name.  As far as  Euro 2020 is concerned - Russia has not only qualified for the European Championship next summer but is also scheduled to host three matches in Group B at St Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium. Uefa is not acknowledged by Wada as a major sporting organisation, and as a result Russia remains eligible to compete and host within European competition.

However, the disqualification would  heavily impact on Russia’s declaration that it intends to bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup, which is due to be finalised in 2021 and would fall within their suspended period. Wada has also ruled that Russia cannot bid for the 2032 Olympic Games as the bidding process is expected to take place during their four-year ban. The Russian flag is not allowed to be flown at any major sporting event in the next four years. Both Russian athletes and their support staff will be allowed to compete as long as they can prove they are not implicated in any way by Rusada’s non-compliance. If Rusada does not challenge the ban by 26 December, then the decision becomes final and there is a 21-day period for parties under Rusada’s remit to appeal the ban, which would see the case referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s appeals arbitration division. Calling the sanctions “inadequate, illogical, and excessive," the president of Russia's Olympic Committee (ROC), Stanislav Pozdnyakov, said the ROC would do everything it could to enable Russian athletes to compete under the country's flag at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

WADA's decision was based on the recommendations of the agency's Compliance Review Committee (CRC), which had alleged that this data was manipulated before being handed over to investigators, as required under conditions for reinstating RUSADA's compliance with the code in September 2018. Doping allegations have plagued the country since the revelation of large-scale, state-sponsored doping aimed at improving its medal performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Russia has lashed back at a proposed four-year ban on the country's athletes over noncompliance with anti-doping regulations, calling it a politically motivated act designed to prevent its athletes from competing. "This is about the politicization of this issue in order to squeeze Russia out. There is a term for such a thing: unfair competition. This is a battle without rules, maybe even already a war," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on November 28. "The issue of doping...focuses exclusively on Russia. The problems of other countries are not discussed at all," she added.

Earlier, Russian track-and-field athletes were banned from competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, although those participating in other events were allowed to participate.  The ban was extended to all events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. However, Russians who could prove they were clean from doping violations were allowed to compete as neutrals under the Olympic flag.

For those fans, who believed Russia to be a strong competitor in Olympics, this is a crude shock.  The woman at the start is - Yuliya Andreyevna Yefimova, a Russian competitive swimmer. After making her Olympic debut in 2008, she went on to win the bronze medal in the 200 metres breaststroke in 2012, and silver medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres breaststroke in 2016. She is a six-time World Champion and  a former world record holder in the 50 metres breaststroke. In Jan 2014, it was announced that Yefimova had failed an out of competition drug test, testing positive for DHEA, an endogenous steroid hormone banned in professional sports.  She was disqualified for 16 months.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10.12.2019

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