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International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach [Courtesy]

Russia faces a four-year ban from international sporting competitions, including the Olympic Games, when the World Anti-Doping Agency hold a crucial meeting in Lausanne.

WADA’s executive committee is expected to approve a recommendation by its Compliance Review Committee that Russia be handed a four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over to investigators earlier this year.

Such a heavy sanction would see Russia ruled out of next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022.

Russian government officials would be barred from attending any major events, while the country would lose the right to host, or even bid, for tournaments.

Under the proposed sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women would still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia’s controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.

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The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) had been suspended for nearly three years previously over revelations of a vast state-supported doping program.

Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, refused to speculate on the outcome of the WADA meeting, but asked for a “clear” answer for events that might be affected.

“I’m not in a position to speculate,” said Bach on Thursday after a meeting of the IOC’s own Executive Board. “I don’t know the details of the decision WADA could take.

“I hope that WADA will be clear on the events to which this decision will refer and why it applies or not.

“This is in the hands of WADA and in particular the CRC (Compliance Review Committee),” Bach added, making clear the decision would be binding on the IOC as “a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code”.

– ‘Attack on sport’ –

WADA president Craig Reedie made a presentation Saturday to the Olympic Summit, participants of which “strongly condemned those responsible for the manipulation of the data from the Moscow laboratory”.

“It was agreed that this was an attack on sport and that these actions should lead to the toughest sanctions against those responsible,” the IOC said in a statement.

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“It was stressed by the participants that full justice must be finally done so that the guilty ones can be properly punished and the innocent ones are fully protected.”

The IOC asked that the Russian authorities deliver the “fully authenticated raw data”.

Former WADA president Dick Pound, who chaired the commission that in 2015 made damning accusations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics, said Moscow had this time gone “too far”.

“The IOC is a little bit tired about what Russia has been doing and so I see the IOC probably focusing more on athletes who are newer,” Pound told AFP.

“Much of the stuff we are looking back now is 2011, 2015. We are years later and many of those athletes are no longer competing and there is a new generation of athlete, many of whom have been regularly tested.”

Pound acknowledged the influential role of Russia — which in recent years hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics as well as the football World Cup in 2018 — “on many levels” in the sporting world.

“On the field of play, it is a big, important country. With China and the United States, it’s among the sporting giants, so that’s influential,” he said.

“It’s (also) influential because Russia hosts and is willing to host many competitions for international federations, especially those who don’t have much money of their own, so they have a considerable influence among the international federations.

“And they’ve been quite strategic about making sure that they get Russians into position on international federations. So they have an impact from inside as well as from outside.”

 

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