Russia and Doping

Article: Russia and Doping – The Facts Behind the Headlines

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By Jonathan Lewis | 19th MAR 2020

Last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the world’s top anti-doping authority, banned Russia from the Olympics and world championships (notably the World Cup) after it was found to be manipulating laboratory data.

WADA confirmed that fake evidence had been planted with files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats being deleted. Russia has appealed WADA’s decision with WADA President Craig Reedie saying his agency will defend it with the “utmost vigour.”

Although there is a ban, some athletes may still be able to compete if they can prove they are not implicated or affected by the incident which ultimately led to the ban. The WADA sanctions mean the Russian flag won’t be displayed at the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2020 and the football World Cup in 2022, among other global sporting events.

The ban will last four years, with The New York Times saying it’s the “most severe punishment yet connected to a years-long cheating scheme”.

This comes four years after details of a conspiracy at the 2014 Sochi Olympics were made public, and just months after revelations of a failed Russian cover-up involving manipulation of test results, The New York Times reports.

Russia has been linked to doping in sports since 2015. We take a look at how the country has reached this point of a ban.

  1. Russia was provisionally suspended as a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2015 following a WADA report detailing evidence of doping in Russian athletics.
  2.  In 2016, the WADA alleges the country ran a state-sponsored doping programme he 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – the ‘cover-up’ apparently benefited more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports.
  3. In the same year, 118 athletes from Russia’s 389-strong team were banned from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
  4. It was announced in 2017 that the country would be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea due to its “systematic manipulation” of anti-doping rules. However, those athletes who test clean would be “invited” to compete.
  5. In 2018, 169 Russian athletes participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics. These don’t form part of the Russian team but participate as an “Olympic athlete from Russia”. These medals also don’t get added to the country’s medal count.
  6. It was in December 2019 that the unanimous agreement from WADA was made to ban Russia for four years.

Russia’s Olympians are not the only sportspeople to use doping to enhance their performances; it has been acknowledged as an issue since the 1960s. While it’s most prominent in athletics and cycling, football has also faced a doping scandal. The Mirror last year reported that 11 Premier League stars, despite testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, were cleared to continue playing by the FA.

This was because it was argued they were taken for medical purposes. This could be an indicator that doping is more of an issue in football than what is expected.

Jonathan Lewis is a MFF sports writer.

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