Tokyo Olympics: Why Russian athletes will compete as ‘neutrals’ and how their four-year suspension went
Russia will once again be a notable absentee from this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. Well, in a form, yes.
Their athletes will compete as ROC, the Russian Olympic Committee, with the country’s name, flag and anthem all banned due to doping violations.
Those who can prove that they are unaffected by the scandal that has rocked the sports world can participate under a neutral flag.
Russian athletes will compete in Tokyo this summer as ROC, the Russian Olympic Committee
Russia’s name, flag (above) and national anthem are all banned due to doping violations
More controversy arose recently after the decision that ultimately reduced the suspension, followed by the unveiling of the red-white-blue kit.
A first four-year sentence was imposed on Russia last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), banning them from events such as the Tokyo Games and Paralympic Games and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The ban was subsequently reduced to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a move that was greeted with a fierce reaction.
The CAS has unanimously determined that Russia has failed to comply with anti-doping rules and regulations.
Russia last year imposed a four-year suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency
The panel said it was “considering issues of proportionality and in particular the need to bring about cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.”
The ruling means that the phrase “neutral athlete” must be prominently displayed on uniforms that include the word “Russia.” The period of the ban will expire in December 2022.
Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian prime minister, had insisted the suspension came about as part of “chronic anti-Russian hysteria.”
“Clearly there are still major doping problems in Russia, I mean our sports community,” Medvedev said. “There’s no denying this.
However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the suspension to two years
Former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev insisted the ban was due to ‘anti-Russian hysteria’
“But on the other hand, the fact that all these decisions are repeated, often affecting athletes who have already been punished in one way or another… naturally suggests that this is part of the anti-Russian hysteria that is chronic.” become. ‘
Russia has been banned from competing as a country in athletics since 2015. They were initially declared non-compliant in November of that year after widespread corruption was alleged.
A report, commissioned by WADA and conducted by attorney Professor Richard McLaren, pointed to state-sponsored doping in athletics.
Further findings from another report in 2016 stated that the doping program was conducted over a four-year period, spanning the “vast majority” of sports at the Summer and Winter Olympics.
But in 2018, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was reinstated for being compliant after the agency said they would release information from a Moscow-based lab collected between January 2012 and August 2015.
Russia has been banned from athletics since 2015 and was also declared non-compliant
However, it was discovered that positive findings in a version of the data previously provided by a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the 2019 version of the files. Unsurprisingly, this sparked the start of a new investigation.
An in-depth investigation was then conducted into the glaring inconsistencies and the WADA Executive Committee unanimously decided to hit Russia with the ban.
After the decision was made, former WADA chairman Sir Craig Reedie emphasized the “determination to act decisively”.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport,” Reedie said. “The blatant violation by the Russian authorities of RUSADA’s recovery terms demanded a strong response. This is exactly what has been delivered.
“Russia was given every opportunity to put things right and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the well-being of its athletes and the integrity of the sport, but instead chose to continue in its stance of deceit and denial.’
Report findings revealed that a state-sponsored doping program lasted four years in Russia
Despite this, the suspension was considered “not enough” in some circles.
“I wanted sanctions that cannot be relaxed,” said former WADA Vice President Linda Helleland. “We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible.”
The Russian ban was imposed following the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in Sochi. There, athletes from the host country won 33 medals, including 13 gold medals.
There were also hundreds of Russian athletes who took part in the 2016 Rio Games, where the country won a total of 56 medals.
After that, 168 athletes from Russia took part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea under a neutral flag.
Russian Vic Wild (left) and Alena Zavarina (right) are seen at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi
168 athletes from Russia competed in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea under a neutral flag (Aleksandr Krushelnitckii and Anastasia Bryzgalova – pictured – returned their medals)
The extended suspension imposed also means that Russia cannot host or bid on major events for a period of time.
This would also include the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but the shortening of the ban could give Russia the right to host, provided their bidding process starts from early 2023 or later.
Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, a former anti-doping official in Russia who fled his allegations over the state-sponsored doping program, still believes there is “more to do” around the issue.
In a statement released after the ban, Rodchenkov said: “Finally fraud, lies and forgeries of unspeakable proportions have been punished in full swing.
“Those involved in the corruption of certain sports such as athletics, weightlifting, skiing, biathlon and bobsleigh should be punished retroactively.”
Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov thinks there is still ‘more to do’ about Russian doping
The Russian ban was imposed after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (pictured above)
He added: “There is a whole generation of beautiful athletes who have painfully given up on their dreams and lost awards because of Russian cheaters. We must take the strongest action to bring justice back to sport.”
After the brutal unveiling of their favorite uniform this year, new anger is directed at Russia.
ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov admitted that the national flag is visible “very, very clearly” and said: “You don’t really have to have a strong imagination.”
There is a belief that the kits are a mockery of the initial ban imposed by WADA – although CAS’s dilution has allowed the country’s colors to be used.
The International Olympic Committee has stressed that the designs are “in line with established and published implementation guidelines.” They explained that they were approved “on this basis.”
ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov (left) admitted that the national flag is visible on the Russian uniforms
The clothing for Russian athletes in Tokyo has sparked controversy over the design unveiled
ZASPORT, the equipment supplier to the Russian Olympic team, unveiled the clothing for the very first time in April.
Polo shirts and jackets are worn together with a white top, while large areas of blue and red are decorated across the body.
An accusation has been made that the uniforms are very similar to those worn by Russian athletes at past events.
Russia acknowledges difficulties in implementing its anti-doping policy but denies a state-sponsored doping program.