Why WADA banned Russia from the Olympics and what it means

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s executive committee voted Monday at its meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, to bar Russia from any formal involvement in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

On Nov. 22, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee recommended that the executive committee find the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code because of “an extremely serious case of noncompliance with the requirement to provide an authentic copy of the Moscow data, with several aggravating features.”

What happened?

The executive committee voted unanimously to accept the recommendations from the organization’s Compliance Review Committee. Under the ruling, Russia will not be allowed to participate in international competition, which also includes the Olympics, Youth Olympic Games, Paralympics, FIFA’s World Cup, world championships and other major sporting events subject to WADA code; Russian officials are barred from sitting on boards and committees related to international sports governance; Russia is disqualified from hosting any major sporting event or even applying for hosting opportunities; and the Russian flag won’t be allowed to fly at any major event.

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How will Russia’s presence in Tokyo be affected?

Russia will have no formal presence. Its flag won’t fly; its anthem won’t play. No officials from the Russian Olympic Committee or any of its sport governing bodies can attend the Olympics or any other major international competitions for the next four years. This includes government officials such as President Vladimir Putin.

But Russian athletes can still compete, as long as they haven’t been implicated in doping. Russia faced similar restrictions during the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, where 168 Russian athletes competed as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” According to WADA, Russians can compete if “they are able to demonstrate that they are not implicated in any way by the noncompliance (i.e., they are not mentioned in incriminating circumstances in the McLaren reports, there are no positive findings reported for them in the database, and no data relating to their samples has been manipulated).”

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