In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency's executive committee voted to ban Russia from any formal involvement in this year's (postponed) summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and 2022's Winter Olympics in Beijing. An official statement by WADA's Compliance Review Committee recommended the executive committee take action because of "an extremely serious case of non-compliance with the requirement to provide an authentic copy of the Moscow data, with several aggravating features." The news rocked the sporting world. So, why was Russia banned from the Olympics?
Here's The Summary Of The Scandal
WADA's executive committee voted to accept the recommendations presented to them by the organization's Compliance Review Committee. Under this ruling, Russia won't be allowed to compete in any major sporting event - including the Olympics, Paralympics, and FIFA World Cup - under WADA authority. Furthermore, Russian officials are banned from sitting on boards and committees that discuss sports governance, the country is no longer permitted to host - or apply to host - any major sporting events, and the Russian flag is not allowed to fly at said events.
What Did They Do Wrong?
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was given until 31st December 2018 to share some of its testing data, having agreed to this transparency following Russian track and field athlete bans at the 2016 Rio Olympics. RUSADA failed to meet the deadline, causing exasperation within the international sporting community. The Russians eventually presented the data, but what they shared showed major discrepancies with data given by a whistleblower in 2017. Clearly, this was a concern. WADA found a whole host of data manipulation which included altered and even deleted files. Not only that, but the Russians were also found to have planted fabricated evidence in an attempt to implicate that 2017 whistleblower.
What Does This Mean For The Future?
By all accounts, it looks like Russia will be eligible to compete again in 2024. The CRC isn't set to monitor Russia's anti-doping operation in the interim, and are confident that RUSADA is effectively combating doping in Russian sport. However, Russia's reinstatement is dependent on WADA remaining satisfied, "...that RUSADA's independence is being respected and there is no improper outside interference with its operations."
Will This Affect The Olympics?
The short answer is yes. Russia is typically a dominant force at the Olympic Games; most competitive in track and field, boxing, wrestling, judo, fencing, and gymnastics. Prior to their initial penalty, Russia sent a team of 436 athletes to London 2012 – the third largest team - winning 68 medals. Even after their track and field ban, the Russian team at the Rio Games in 2016 was still comprised of 282 athletes, who brought home an impressive 66 medals.
What About The World Cup?
The likelihood is that Russia's participation in the next FIFA World Cup - Qatar 2022 - will also be blocked. WADA states that the country is barred from any event organized by a major organization of which FIFA is certainly one. Interestingly, there's a chance that Russian players might be allowed to participate on a neutral basis, not representing their country, but the mechanism for this solution is far from in place. Unlike the Olympics, Russia isn't usually a major threat at the World Cup, rarely advancing much further than the group stages.