Rusada set to take Wada ruling to CAS

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during the Tsinghua University ceremony at Friendship Palace in April 2019 (by Kenzaburo Fukuhara - Pool/Getty Images)

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) has today (Thursday) recommended that an appeal be filed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), while President Vladimir Putin has said the punishments are “unjust” and “go against common sense”.

A Rusada Supervisory Board meeting today decided, as had been expected, that the agency’s board of founders should pursue an appeal at CAS against the sanctions imposed by Wada earlier this month.

“I believe it will happen in 10-to-15 days,” Alexander Ivlev, head of the Rusada Supervisory Council, said, according to state news agency Tass. “After that the ball will be in the court of Wada and the situation will be developing within the legal boundaries. I believe that law firms, which will be involved in the process, will be taking into account a great deal of arguments.”

On December 9, Wada upheld a recommendation for Russia to be banned, with president Craig Reedie stating that a “robust response” was needed to a “blatant breach” by Russian authorities of the conditions to bring Rusada back in line.

The verdict from Wada’s Executive Committee during a meeting in Lausanne unanimously endorsed the recommendation made last month by its independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) that Rusada be declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code for a period of four years.

The sanctions include the provision that Russia may not host, bid for, or be granted in the four-year period, the right to host any major sporting events. Where the right to host a major event in the period has already been awarded to Russia, the signatory must withdraw that right and re-assign the event to another country, unless it is legally or “practically impossible” to do so.

In addition, Russia may not bid for the right to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, irrespective of whether the bidding takes place during or after the four-year period. The sanctions cover international, rather than continental, events meaning that Russia will retain contracts including games during Uefa Euro 2020 and the staging of the 2021 final of European football’s governing body’s showpiece club competition, the Champions League.

Other sanctions include that Russian athletes and their support personnel may only participate in major events staged where they are able to demonstrate that they are not implicated in any way by the non-compliance of Rusada.

This is likely to mean that for the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and other international events, Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag. For the 2018 winter Olympics in PyeongChang, 168 Russians competed under the banner ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’ The four-year ban takes in football’s 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Putin today referred to the sanctions in his traditional end-of-year news conference. “In my opinion, this decision is not only unjust, but also goes against common sense,” Putin said. “Decisions were made against athletes competing under a neutral flag at the previous Olympics.”

He continued: “Unfortunately, this decision is more likely to again be of a political nature. The Wada decision contradicts the Olympic Charter. If there are no claims against the Russian Olympic Committee, the national team must compete under the national flag, while we have to render support and assistance.”

Putin expressed his belief that the event hosting ban would have little impact, referring to the 2022 men’s Volleyball World Championship as an event Russia intends to retain. He also said Wada’s sanctions are a blanket punishment on Russian athletes, and should instead have been targeted at individuals.

He added: “Any punishment should be individual. If anyone is caught, then (punishment) is absolutely natural and fair. But if the overwhelming majority of athletes are clean, how can they slap sanctions on them?

“Our girls in figure skating, they are very young, what relation do they have to doping? They land quadruple jumps and almost no one does this in figure skating now. They can be also ‘cleaned out’ and removed from the ice like this, but why? Will this benefit global sport?”