Russia Faces Calamitous WADA Penalties

(ATR) The Russian flag could disappear from the Olympics and other sports events for four years.

(ATR) Manipulated drug testing data could cost Russia a place at the Olympics and other major sport events for the next four years.

The World Anti Doping Agency has released the recommendation of its Compliance Review Commission over the manipulated data supplied to WADA by Russia earlier this year. The WADA Executive Committee will decide December 9 whether to accept the findings of the CRC.

The report is recommending that Russian athletes be banned from competing at the Olympics or any other major event of a WADA signatory for the next four years, unless cleared to participate as a neutral athlete.

That was the case for Russia in Rio and Pyeongchang. The IOC reinstated Russia as the 2018 Winter Olympics ended. Now the possibility looms that Tokyo 2020 will not fly the flag of the Russia nor include a team from Russia. The ban will extend to Beijing 2022 if WADA endorses the CRC proposal, as well as the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal and the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games, location to be decided.

Outside of the Olympics, Russian athletes will also only be allowed to compete at major events of WADA signatories as neutral athletes.

Russia would be banned from bidding on any major sport events involving WADA signatories and would have to relinquish any major events on the calendar already across the four-year window of sanctions.

Changes to the recommendations are possible at the WADA meeting in Paris next month. And any sanctions approved by the anti-doping agency would be subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That process would likely be finished in the first half of 2020, the sanctions going into effect if the appeal is unsuccessful. Should the four-year banishment take effect, the 2024 Olympics in Paris could be the first to mark the return of a proper team from the Russian federation since the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. The doping scandal that is striking Russian sport had its genesis in 2014 when a whistleblower exposed the alteration and falsification of drug tests for Russian athletes competing in Sochi.

That expose led to revelations involving athletes in a number of sports and the eventual suspension of Russia by WADA and the IOC, as well as World Athletics, then known as the IAAF. World Athletics still has refused to recertify Russia, allowing only athletes who have been vetted for anti-doping to compete as neutral athletes.

Russian government officials would be banned from attending the Olympics and other events under the proposed penalties from WADA.

The sanctions would also ban officials from the Russian Olympic Committee from the Olympics. That provision would seem to effectively dim the chances for Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov to join the IOC. He has held the post since 2018 but the customary IOC seat for the Russia NOC chief has not been filled, most recently held by Alexander Zhukov. Pozdnyakov is urging that the entire leadership of the Russian Athletics Federation be replaced as part of the reforms to sport in the country.

Among the sporting events that could be affected by new Russia ban is the European football championship in 2020. Russia has qualified and is supposed to host matches.

Russia also would pay a fine of up to $100,000.

Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is one of the most vocal critics of the way the Russian scandal has been handled. In a statement to Around the RIngs, Tygart says he supports the stiff penalties WADA could deliver in December.

"It’s great the CRC has recognized the egregious conduct of Russia toward clean athletes and now let’s all hope the WADA Executive Committee uses the same resolve to ensure clean athletes are not again sold down the river and actually supports this unfortunate but necessary outcome."

Reported by Ed Hula.