World Anti-Doping Agency threatens Russia with a 4-year ban

A key panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommends Russia be hit with a four-year ban from sporting competitions over noncompliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.

The global anti-doping watchdog on November 25 said the recommendation by its Compliance Review Committee is based on a forensic review of “inconsistencies” found in some of the data that were obtained by the agency from a Moscow laboratory in January.

WADA’s Executive Committee will consider the recommendation and proposed consequences on December 9, a statement said.

A four-year ban on hosting major events in Russia and a ban for the same period on flying the Russian flag at major competitions would mean the country being banned from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and Russian athletes being forced to compete as neutrals.

Russia’s track team was reduced to a single athlete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio amid earlier doping revelations.

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WADA has documented more than 1,000 Russian doping cases across dozens of sports, most notably at the Winter Olympics that Russia hosted in Sochi in 2014.

The country was found guilty of a government-organized effort to mask samples from athletes using banned substances between 2011 and 2015.

The Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA and Russia’s Athletics Federation (RUSAF) have been banned from international competitions since 2015.

Four years later the suspensions are still in place, and World Athletics, the sport’s global governing body, on November 22 halted RUSAF’s readmission process and said the federation could be expelled altogether.

The announcement came after RUSAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin and several other officials were provisionally suspended over breaches of anti-doping rules. Shlyakhtin later resigned from the post.

On November 25, the head of Russia’s Olympic Committee called for the entire leadership of RUSAF to be replaced, saying the scandal around the federation ‘discredits all of Russian sport, inflicts colossal reputational damage on our country as a whole, and undermines the foundations of the Olympic movement’s integrity.’

‘If this recommendation will not be taken into account, we will consider the question of the membership of the athletics federation in the Russian Olympic Committee at our next executive committee meeting,’ Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement.