Russia to decide on appeal against doping ban

Doping (File)
Doping (File)

Moscow - Russia's anti-doping agency will on Thursday decide whether to launch an appeal against a four-year ban from major sporting events over systematic violations, a prohibition denounced by the country's leadership as politically motivated.

The supervisory board of RUSADA will hold a meeting and is widely expected to announce its formal rejection of the December 9 decision by WADA to ban Russia for non-compliance.

This formal disagreement with WADA would trigger the process of appeal against the ban at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

RUSADA supervisory board chairperson Alexander Ivlev is due to announce the decision at 1000 GMT.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on December 10 banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, over manipulated doping data.

Under the sanctions, Russians will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, but only as neutrals and if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the ban as a "politically motivated" ruling that "contradicted" the Olympic Charter. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev lamented it was "the continuation of this anti-Russian hysteria that has already become chronic."

'Inefficient and useless'

The expected confirmation of an appeal will coincide with the annual marathon press conference of Putin, also on Thursday afternoon, where the president is set to again take a position on the issue.

The director general of RUSADA, Yuri Ganus, who has long argued for a major crackdown by Russia against doping cheats, said he expected the supervisory board to appeal but strongly opposed the move.

"The board will decide to appeal," he told AFP. "I believe this to be inefficient and useless."

Ganus, whose rigorous stance puts him at odds with his own government and supervisory board, argues that Moscow needs to accept the sanctions and own up to its faults in order to be able to reform.

The suspension was handed to Russia over falsifying data from a doping testing laboratory that was handed to WADA earlier this year as part of the compliance re-instatement process.

The significant extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia, notably between 2011 and 2015, was revealed in the independent report by sports lawyer Richard McLaren, released in 2016.

The issue has dealt a colossal blow to the status of post-Soviet Russia as a major sports power after hosting events such as the 2013 World Athletics Championships, the 2018 World Cup and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Sochi Games later became notorious for the number of doping violations by prominent Russian athletes.

The situation has also divided Russian sports stars, with three-time world champion high jumper Mariya Lasitskene calling on sports officials to be held to account over the ban.

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