Australia joins world outrage over Russian doping 'tragedy'

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Pictured here, Russian president Vladimir Putin and the country's athletes at the 2016 Rio Games.
Russia was initially handed a four-year ban after being found guilty of state-sponsored doping. Pic: Getty

Australia has expressed disappointment on behalf of its athletes at Russia's doping ban being halved to two years.

The two-year sanction bars Russia from sending an official delegation to the rearranged 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Winter Olympics and the 2022 World Cup but allows Russian athletes to compete in those events under a neutral banner.

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Similar rules were in effect for Russian athletes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Sport Integrity Australia chief executive David Sharpe says the reduced ban will leave Australian athletes questioning the world's anti-doping system.

"The reduction of sanctions imposed on Russia will leave Australian athletes asking many questions," Sharpe said in a statement on Friday.

"If these are the strongest sanctions for the type of conduct that has been displayed in this case, then the consequences for non-compliance in our global anti-doping system are not aligned with our stakeholder's expectations."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has halved the four-year ban proposed last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in a landmark case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow.

The decision has led to widespread condemnation across the sporting world, with USADA chief executive Travis Tygart calling it a "catastrophic blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport, and the rule of law”.

Tygart said the attempt to alter evidence showed Russia had not been deterred by earlier sanctions.

“They’ve been given chance after chance after chance,” Tygart said.

“PyeongChang didn’t change their behaviour and we know that because they manipulated the database after that. So to be given yet another weak and loophole-riddled outcome is just a tragedy for the overall global effort.”

An Olympic flag is seen here in place of the Russian flag at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Russian athletes had to compete under the Olympic flag during the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pic: Getty

Severity of Russia’s punishment questioned

Australia's Sport Integrity chief said hundreds of individual athletes had received more severe sanctions than CAS' penalty on Russia.

"We all need to wait for the CAS decision and digest the reasons," Sharpe said.

"But at first glance it would appear that all major stakeholders will need to unite to strengthen our anti-doping system and ensure that there are real deterrents for serious non-compliance and any conduct designed to cover up that non-compliance.

"If this is the appropriate sanction under the current compliance rules then governments, the sport movement, national anti-doping organisations and athletes must all come together after the release of the full decision and immediately work to strengthen these rules."

The full CAS ruling was expected to be released within weeks.

Under the CAS decision, Russia will not be able to use its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years.

The decision also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.

But Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year's Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not implicated in doping or cover up positive tests.

with Yahoo Sport staff

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