World reacts to Russia’s Olympic ban

The World Anti-Doping Agency has banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar over manipulated doping data.

Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, but only as neutrals and only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

Russia will still be allowed to compete in qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but should they progress to the finals in Qatar, "the team there will not be representing the Russian Federation", WADA said.

Russia's participation in the football tournament Euro 2020 - where Saint Petersburg will host four matches - is not affected by the ban because it is not defined as a "major event" for anti-doping purposes.

This is how the world has reacted to the decision.


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban was politically motivated. "This is the continuation of this anti-Russian hysteria that has already become chronic," Medvedev told domestic news agencies.

RUSADA's supervisory board is set to meet on December 19 to take a decision on whether to appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Yury Ganus, the head of RUSADA, said his country had "no chance" of winning an appeal. "There is no chance of winning this case in court," Ganus said. "This is a tragedy. Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited."

Russian athletes were in shock. "I have no words … How can you mock athletes who have been preparing all their lives for this?" said Aslanbek Khushtov, who won wrestling gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "Unfortunately this is politics, I don't smell any sport here."

Ice hockey star Alex Ovechkin said: "It's sad news … I feel bad for people working so hard for this moment and they can't be there … I hope everything's going to be well. We still have a long time until the Olympics to figure out what to do."

The heads of several Russian sports federations said they were preparing to send athletes to the 2020 Olympics under a neutral flag.

The country's athletes "must go to the Olympics whatever the situation," said the head of Russia's swimming federation, Vladimir Salnikov.

"Of course we'd prefer that our athletes participate under the Russian flag and hear their national anthem. But the circumstances may be different … (and) no one has the right to deprive innocent athletes of their dreams," he said.

Darya Klishina was Russia’s sole athletics competitor after a similar ban in Rio in 2016. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Darya Klishina was Russia’s sole athletics competitor after a similar ban in Rio in 2016. Picture. Phil Hillyard


The former head of Russia's anti-doping agency, Grigory Rodchenkov, who fled Moscow after turning whistleblower, welcomed the ban imposed on his country.

"Finally, fraud, lies and falsifications of unspeakable proportions have been punished in full swing," Rodchenkov said in a statement.

Rodchenkov, who lives in the US under a witness protection program after accusing Russia of widespread doping activities, called for the results of the 2012 London and 2014 Sochi Olympics to "be reanalysed and reconsidered with the new knowledge available today."

"There is a whole generation of clean athletes who have painfully abandoned their dreams and lost awards because of Russian cheaters. We need to take the strongest action to bring justice back to sport," he said.

"For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport," WADA president Craig Reedie added.

"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."

But Travis Tygart, the outspoken CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, accused the International Olympic Committee of having "orchestrated a path for this decision to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, thereby setting up CAS as the failsafe to implement even weaker, if any, consequences against these thugs who have been given repeated chances to do the right thing".

He accused sports leaders of bowing "to the Russian money and influence in failing to adequately deal with this sullen affair years ago".

Russia celebrates after winning the men's gold medal hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, FILE)
Russia celebrates after winning the men's gold medal hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, FILE)


The Australian Government, as Oceania's representative on WADA's executive committee voted to support the sanctions.

"The WADA investigations revealed a clear and calculated intent to covertly manipulate data within the laboratory information management system, hide evidence and falsely blame others for it," a government statement read.

"It follows earlier revelations of the Russian state-sponsored doping program. Our athletes deserve to compete on a fair and even playing field both domestically and internationally."

Ian Chesterman, the Australian Olympic team Chef de Mission for Tokyo, described Russia's actions as "a shocking betrayal of fair sport"

"Every athlete deserves to compete with the confidence they are competing in a clean and fair environment," Chesterman said.

"The fact that this was a systematic attempt to undermine fair sport makes it all the more galling and all the more offensive."

- wires