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  • The Russian national flag (R) and the Olympic flag are seen during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia, February 23, 2014.

    The Russian national flag (R) and the Olympic flag are seen during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia, February 23, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 December 2019

The decision comes after Russia's Anti Doping Agency was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) handed a four-year ban to Russia Monday from the world’s top sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup.

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"Wada Executive Committee unanimously endorses a four-year period of non-compliance for the Russian Anti-Doping Agency," the agency said in a statement following a meeting of its executive committee in Switzerland.

The decision comes after Russia's Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

"Wada now has the names of all suspicious athletes... this includes the athletes whose data was manipulated or even deleted, including the 145 athletes within Wada’s target group of most suspicious athletes but also others beyond that target group," it said, as for many the punishment is still too soft. 

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban was part of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria," although admitting, “that a significant doping problem still exists in Russia.”

Yet this is not the first time Rusada has been involved in a doping scandal with Wada. 

Since 2015, Russia as a nation has been banned in athletics as Rusada was initially declared non-compliant after a report showed alleged widespread corruption within the agency. In 2018, Wada reinstated the Russian body after it agreed to release data from its Moscow laboratory from the period between January 2012 and August 2015.

However, with the recent scandal, the Russian flag will be completely banned from major sporting events, meaning Russian athletes won’t be able to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics or Qatar’s 2022 World Cup. 

Athletes who can prove they are clean and not linked to the doping scandal will be able to compete under a neutral flag. After the country was banned in 2015, a total of 168 Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. 

With regards to football’s major tournament, it’s not clear how competing as neutrals at the World Cup might work in practice. The sport’s governing body, FIFA, said it was in contact with WADA to clarify the extent of the decision.

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